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Harvard CoUege 
Library 




FROM THE FUND 
GIVEN BY 

VISCOUNT GREY 

OF 

FALLODON, K. G. 

MDCCCCXXVII 




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GEOEGE SMITH 



A MEMOIE 



WITH SOME PAGES OF AUTOBIOGRAPHY 



FOB PRIVATE OIBCVLATION 



LONDON 
1902 



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In this small volume I have brought together, 
for prwate circulation among my husband's friends, the 
four papers of Beminiscences which he contributed to 
the * Comhill Magazine * during the last months of his 
life, together with the In Memoriam notice from 
Sir Leslie Stephen* s pen which appeared in the Magazine 
immediately after his death, and the fuller Memoir 
which Mr. Sidney Lee wrote for the first volume of the 
Supplement to the * Dictionary of National Biography' 

I ha/oe also included reproductions of the two portraits 
of my husband : one painted of him in mdddle life, by 
Mr, O, F, Watts, B.A., and the other, a posthumous 
portrait by the Hon. John Collier, representing him in 
his latest years, which I owe to the kindness of the 
friends who desire that it should remain with me until 
offered to the National Portrait Gallery. 

The friends of my dear husband have in many ways 
shown the affection and esteem in which they hold his 
memory, and I believe I am not wrong in thdnking that 
they wUl welcome this small memorial of his career, which 
I beg them to accept unth my grateful acknowledgments of 
their kindness and sympathy. 

I am also glad to have this opportunity of expressing 
the deep gratification which the Memorial Tablet his friends 
have placed in St. PauVs Cathedral has given to me and 
to my children. 

E. S. 
August 1902. 



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CONTENTS 



« 



PAas 
A MEMOIR OF GEORGE SMITH BY SIDNEY LEE . . 1 
From the Supplement to the * Dictionary of National 
Biography* 

SOME PAGES OP AUTOBIOGRAPHY BY GEORGE SMITH 
From the * CornhiU MagoMme* 

I. IN THB SABLT FOBTIBS 71 

n. CHABLOTTB BBONTE 82 

m. OUB BIBTH AMD PABBMTAGB 106 

IV. LAWFUL FLBA8UBBS 126 

IN MEMORIAM, BY SIR LESLIE STEPHEN, K.C.B. . . 147 
From the ' OomMU Maganne* 



PORTRAIT Frontispiece 

From the picture painted by Mr. O, F. Watte, B»A.j 
in 1876. 

PORTRAIT To face p. 71 

From the poethwm^me picture painted by the Hon. 
John CoUier in 1901. 

MEMORIAL TABLET „ 147 



r 







A MEMOIB 
or 

GEORGE SMITH 

Bbpsintsd fbom thb 
Supplement to the *Diotionaby of National Biography' 



> B 



i 



MEMOIB OF QEOBGE SMITH 



Geobgb Smith (1824-1901), publisher, the founder and 
proprietor of the ' Dictionary of National Biography/ was 
of Scottish parentage. His paternal grandfather was a 
small landowner and farmer in Morayshire (or Elgin- 
shire), who died young and left his family ill provided for. 
His father, George Smith (1789-1846), began life as an 
apprentice to Isaac Forsyth, a bookseller and banker in 
the town of Elgin. At a youthful age he migrated to 
London with no resources at his command beyond his 
abilities and powers of work. By nature industrious, 
conscientious, and religious, he was soon making steady 
and satisfactory progress. At first he found employment 
in the publishing house of Eivington in St. Paul's 
Churchyard. Subsequently he transferred his services to 
John Murray, the famous publisher of Albemarle Street, 
cmd while in Murray's employ was sent on one occar- 
sion to deliver proof-sheets to Lord Byron. At length, 
in 1816, he and another Scottish immigrant to London, 
Alexander Elder, a native of Banff, who was Smith's 
junior by a year, went into partnership, and set up in 
business for themselves on a modest scale. They opened 
premises at 168 Fenchurch Street as booksellers and 
stationers. The new firm was styled Smith & Elder. 
After three years the partners added publishing to the 
other branches of their business. On March 2, 1819, they 

B 2 



4 MEMOIB OF GBOBQB SMTTH 

were both admitted by redemption to the freedom of the 
Stationers' Company. Membership of the company was 
needful at the time for the pnrsnit in London of the 
publisher's calling. Some four months later, on July 19, 
1819, Smith & Elder entered their earliest publication 
in the Stationers' Company's register. It was a well- 
printed collection of ' Sermons and Expositions of interest- 
ing Portions of Scripture,' by a popular congregational 
minister, Dr. John Morison of Trevor Chapel, Brompton. 
Thus unobtrusively did the publishing house set out on 
its road to fame and fortune, which it soon attained in 
moderate measure by dint of strenuous endeavour and 
skilful adaptation of means to ends. 

On October 1 2, 1820 — little more than a year after the elder 
Smith had become a London publisher — ^he married. His 
wife, Elizabeth Murray, then twenty-three years old, and 
thus her husband's junior by eight years, was daughter of 
Alexander Murray, a successful glass-ware manufacturer in 
London, who, like her husband, was of Elginshire origin. 
Mrs. Smith was a woman of much shrewdness, vivacity, 
and sanguine temper, in whose judgment and resource- 
fulness her husband, and afterwards her children, placed 
the utmost confidence. The young couple Uved, on their 
marriage, over Smith & Elder's shop in Fenchurch Street, 
and there George Smith, the eldest son and second child 
(of six), was bom on March 19, 1824.^ 

Very shortly after his birth the father removed his 
business and his family to 65 Comhill — to that house 
which was fated to acquire wide repute, alike in literary 
and commercial circles. There, at the age of six, young 
George Smith suffered an attack of brain fever, and his 
mother, who showed him special indulgence, was warned 

^ During the last twenty-eight years of his life Smith designated himself 
Qeorge M. Smith. He had bestowed his mother's name of Murray on all 
his children, and it was convenient to give a corresponding form to his own 
signature. 



MBMOIB OF GEOEGB SMrTH 6 

against subjecting him to any severity of discipline. From 
infancy he was active and high-spirited, and domestic 
leniency encouraged in him an unruliness of temper which 
hampered the course of his education. But his parents 
desired him to enjoy every educational advantage that 
lay in their power. At first he was sent to Dr. Smith's 
boarding school at Bottingdean. Thence he passed at the 
age of ten to Merchant Taylors' School, but soon left it 
for a school at Blackheath, where the master, finding him 
intractable, advised his parents, greatly to their indignation, 
to send him to sea. Although he did well as far as the 
schoolwork was concerned, his propensity for mischievous 
frolic was irrepressible, and after he had spent a few terms 
at the City of London School his father deemed it wisest 
to take him into his office. He had shown an aptitude for 
mathematics, delighted in chemistry, and had not neglected 
Latin ; but he was too young to have msrde great advance 
in the conventional subjects of study when in 1838, at the 
age of fourteen, he began a business career. Subsequently 
he received lessons at home in French, and showed a quick 
intuitive appreciation of good literature. But it was the 
stir of the mercantile world that first gave useful direction 
to his abundant mental energy. 

During his boyhood his father's firm had made notable 
progress. On its removal to Comhill, in 1824, Smith 
& Elder were joined by a third partner, and the firm 
assumed the permanent designation of Smith, Elder, <fe Co. 
The new partner was a man of brilliant and attractive 
gifts, if of weak and self-indulgent temperament. His 
entry into the concern greatly extended its sphere of action. 
His guardian, ^neas Macintosh, was chief partner in a 
great firm of Calcutta merchants, and this connection with 
India brought to the bookselling and publishing branches 
of Smith, Elder, & Co.'s business the new department of 
an Lidian agency, which in course of time far outdistanced 
in conmiercial importance the rest of their work. At the 



6 MEMOIB OF OEOBGB SMITH 

outset the Indian operations were confined to the export 
of stationery and books to officers in the East India 
Company's service ; but gradually all manner of commodi- 
ties was dealt with, banking responsibilities were under- 
taken, and Smith, Elder, & Co. ultimately left most of the 
other Indian agencies in London far behind alike in the 
variety and extent of their transactions. 

It was to the third partner, who had become a livery- 
man of the Clothworkers' Company on March 1, 1837, 
that Smith was apprenticed on beginning his business 
career. On May 2, 1838, the fact of his apprenticeship 
was duly entered in the Clothworkers' Company's records. 

At the moment that Smith joined the firm it had 
entered into close relations with Lieutenant Waghom, 
the originator of the overland route to India. While 
Waghom was experimentmg with his new means of com- 
municating with the east, Smith, Elder, & Co. acted as 
his agents, and published from 1837 the many pamphlets 
in which he pressed his schemes and opinions on public 
notice. Some of Smith's earhest reminiscences related to 
Waghom's strenuous efforts to perfect his system, with 
which the boy's native activity of mind enabled him to 
sympathise very thoroughly. All the letters that were 
sent to India under Waghom's supervision across the 
Isthmus of Suez and through the Bed Sea were des- 
patched from Smith, Elder, & Co.'s office in Comhill, and 
those reaching England from India by the same route were 
delivered there on arriving in London. Young Smith 
willingly helped his seniors to ' play at post office,' and 
found that part of his duties thoroughly congenial. But 
as a whole his labours in Comhill were arduous. He was 
at work from half-past seven in the morning till eight 
o'clock in the evening, with very short intervals. His 
father wisely trained him in all the practical details of the 
stationery and bookselling business. He had to mend 
the office quills, and was taught how to bind books and 



MEMOIB OF GEOEGE SMITH 7 

even compose type. The dinner-hour in the middle of 
the day he often, however, contrived to spend at Dyer's 
riding school in Finsbnry Square, where he became an 
expert horseman. Biding remained all his life his main 
recreation. In 1841, three years after his entry into the 
firm, his family removed to Denmark Hill. 

The steady increase in the firm's general business was 
accompanied by marked activity in the publishing depart- 
ment, and early in the thirties that departnient won an 
assured reputation. For the first development of the 
publishing branch Mr. Elder was largely responsible, and 
though he applied himself to it somewhat spasmodically, 
and his ventures were by no means uniformly successful, 
some interesting results were quickly achieved. As early 
as 1826 Smith, Elder, & Co. issued, in partnership with 
Chalmers & Collins, a Glasgow firm, James Donnegan's 
^New Greek and English Lexicon,' which was long a 
standard book. In 1827 they undertook single-handed 
the issue of Bichard Thomson's ' Chronicles of London 
Bridge.' Of more popular literary work which the firm 
produced, the most attractive item was the fashionable 
annual called ' Friendship's Offering.' This elaborately 
illustrated gift-book was originally produced at the end of 
1824, under the editorship of Thomas Kibble Hervey 
(subsequently editor of the ^ Athenaeum '), by a neigh- 
bouring publisher, Lupton Belfe of 18 Comhill. The 
number for 1828 was the first published by Smith, Elder, 
& Co., and for fourteen consecutive years they continued 
to make annually an addition to the series. Hervey was 
succeeded in the editorship by the Scottish poet, Thomas 
Fringle, and ultimately by Leitch Bitchie, a well-known 
figure in journalism, who otherwise proved of service to 
the firm. The writers in * Friendship's Offering ' were 
the most distinguished of the day. They included not 
only veterans Uke Southey, Coleridge, and the Ettrick 
Shepherd, but also beginners like Tennyson and Buskin. 



8 MEMOIB OF GBOBGB SMITH 

The Hon. Mrs. Norton, Miss Mitford, Miss Strickland, 
were regular contributors. To the volume for 1833 
Macaulay contributed his * Ballad of the Armada.' The 
numerous plates in each issue were after pictures by the 
greatest artists of the time, and were engraved by the best 
available talent. When the series was at its zenith of 
popularity some eight to ten thousand copies of each 
volume were sold at Christmas. 

Another of the literary coxmections of the firm was 
Miss Louisa Henrietta Sheridan, a daughter of Captain 
W. B. Sheridan, a very distant relative of the well-known 
family.^ Of her personal attractions Smith cherished 
from boyhood admiring memories. Between 1831 and 
1835 she edited for the firm five annual volumes entitled 
*The Comic Offering, or Lady's Melange of Literary 
Mirth,' which Bobert Seymour, the practical originator 
of ' Pickwick,' helped to illustrate ; and in 1838 Smith, 
Elder, & Co. produced for her ' The Diadem, a Book for 
the Boudoir,' with some valuable plates, and contributions 
by various well-known hands, including Thomas Campbell, 
James and Horace Smith, and Agnes Strickland. 

In its attitude to fiction the young firm manifested, 
under Leitch Bitchie's influence, an exceptional spirit 
of enterprise. In 1833 Smith, Elder, & Co. started a 
' Library of Bomance,' a series of original novels and 
romances, English, American, or translated from foreign 
tongues, which they published at the prophetic price of 
six shillings. Fifteen volumes appeared under Bitchie's 
editorship before the series ended in 1835. The first was 
*The Ghost Hunter and his Family,' by John and 
Michael Banim, the authors of * The O'Hara Family ; ' the 
fourth was John Gait's ' Stolen Child ' (1833) ; the sixth, 
' The Slave-King,' a translation from Victor Hugo (1833) ; 
and the fifteenth and last was ' Ernesto,' a philosophical 

> On Sept. 8, 1840, she married at Paris Lient.-oolonel Sir Henry Wyatt 
and died next year, Oct. 2, 1841. 



MEMOIR OF OEOBGE SMITH 9 

romance of interest by William [Henry] Smith (1808- 
1872), who afterwards won fame as author of ' Thomdale.' 
Among Smith, Elder, & Co.'s early works in general 
light literature which still retain their zest were James 
Grant's ' Bandom BecoUections of the House of Commoiis ' 
and 'Bandom BecoUections of the House of Lords* 
(1836). Nor was the firm disinclined to venture on art 
publications involving somewhat large risks. Glarkson 
Stanfield's * Coast Scenery,' a collection of forty views, 
issued (after publication in serial parts) at the price of 
32a. Qd., appeared in 1836; and 'The Byron Gallery,' 
thirty-six engravings of subjects from Byron's poems, 
followed soon afterwards at the price of 85$. These 
volumes met with a somewhat cool reception from the 
book-buying public, but an ambition to excel in the 
production of expensively illustrated volumes was well 
alive in the firm when, in 1838, Smith first enlisted in its 
service.^ That year saw the issue of the first portion of 
the great collected edition of Sir Humphry Davy's 
'Works,' which was completed in nine volumes next 
year.^ In 1838, too, the firm inaugurated a series of 
elaborate reports of recent expeditions which the govern- 
ment had sent out for purposes of scientific exploration. 
The earliest of these great scientific publications was Sir 
Andrew Smith's 'Illustrations of the Zoology of South 
Africa,' of which the first volume was issued in 1838, and 
four others followed between that date and 1847, all 
embellished with drawings of exceptional beauty by 
George Henry Ford. The government made a grant of 
1,500Z. in aid of the publication, and the five volumes 
were sold at the high price of 182. Of like character were 

' Besides the large ventures which they undertook on their own account, 
Smith, Elder, A Co. acted at this time as agents for many elaborate publica. 
tions prepared by responsible publishers of Edinburgh and Glasgow ; such 
were Thomas Brown's FosaU ConchoJogy of Great BrUam, the first of the 
twenty-eight serial parts of which appeared in April 1887, and Eay*s 
Edmburgh Porpraits, 2 vols. 4to. 1S88. 



10 MEMOIB OF OEOBGE SMITH 

the reports of the scientific results of Admiral Sir Edward 
Belcher's voyage to the Pacific in the Snlphur : a volume 
on the zoology, prepared by Bichard Brinsley Hinds, came 
out under Smith, Elder, & Go.'s auspices in 1843, a second 
volume (on the botany) appeared in the next year, and a 
third volume (completing the zoology) in 1845. That 
was Smith, Elder, & Co/s third endeavour in this special 
class of publication. To the second a more lasting interest 
attaches. It was ' The Zoological Beport of the Expedi- 
tion of H.M.S. Beagle,' in which Darwin sailed as natura- 
list. One thousand pounds was advanced by the govern- 
ment to the firm for the publication of this important 
work. The first volume appeared in large quarto in 1840. 
Four more volumes completed the undertaking by 1848, 
the price of the whole being SI. 158. Smith, Elder, & Co. 
were thus brought into personal relations with Darwin, 
the earliest of their authors who acquired worldwide fame. 
Independently of his official reports they published for 
him, in more popular form, extracts from them in volumes 
bearing the titles ' The Structure and Distribution of Coral 
Beefs' in 1842, 'Geological Observations on Volcanic 
Islands ' in 1844, and ' Geological Observations on South 
America ' in 1846. 

The widening range of the firm's dealings with distant 
lands in its capacity of Indian agents rendered records of 
travel pecuUarly appropriate to its publishing department, 
and Smith, Elder, & Co. boldly contemplated the equip- 
ment on their own account of explorers whose reports 
should serve them as literature. About 1840 Austen 
Henry Layard set out, at their suggestion, in the company 
of Edward Mitford, on an overland journey to Asia ; but 
the two men quarrelled on the road, and the work that 
the firm contemplated was never written. Another 
project which was defeated by a like cause was an 
expedition to the south of France, on which Leitch Bitchie 
and James Augustus St. John started in behalf of Smith, 
Elder, & Co.'s publishing department. But the firm was 



MEMOIB OF OEOBOE SMITH 11 

never dependent on any single class of publication. It is 
noteworthy that no sooner had it opened relations with 
Darwin, the writer who was to prove the greatest English 
naturalist of the century, than its services were sought by 
him who was to prove the century's greatest art-critic and 
one of its greatest artists in English prose — John Buskin. 
It was in 1843, while Smith was still in his pupilage, that 
Buskin's father, a prosperous wine merchant in the city 
of London, introduced his son's first prose work to Smith, 
Elder, & Co.'s notice. They had already published some 
poems by the young man in ' Friendship's OfiEering.' In 
1843 he had completed the first volume of 'Modem 
Painters, by a Graduate of Oxford.' His father failed to 
induce John Murray to issue it on commission. The offer 
was repeated at Comhill, where it was accepted with 
alacrity, and thus was inaugurated Buskin's thirty years' 
close personal connection with Smith, Elder, & Co., and 
more especially with George Smith, on whose shoulders 
the whole responsibilities of the firm were soon to fall. 

The public were slow in showing their appreciation 
of Buskin's earliest book. Of the five hundred copies 
printed of the first edition of the first volume of ' Modem 
Painters,' only 105 were disposed of within the year. 
Possibly there were other causes besides public indiffer- 
ence for this comparative failure. Signs were not want- 
ing at the moment that, ambitious and enlightened as 
were many of the young firm's publishing enterprises, 
they suffered in practical realisation from a lack of strict 
business method which it was needful to supply, if the 
publishing department was to achieve absolute success. 
The heads of the firm were too busily absorbed in their 
rapidly growing Indian business to give close attention to 
the publishing branch ; managers had been recently 
chosen to direct it, and had not proved sufficiently com- 
petent to hold their posts long. Salvation was at hand 
within the office from a quarter in which the partners had 
not thought to seek it. A predilection for the publishing 



12 MEMOIR OF GEOBGB SMITH 

branch of the business was akeady declaring itself in 
young Smith, as well as a practical insight into business 
method which convinced him, boy though he was, that 
some reorganisation was desirable. With a youthful self- 
confidence, which, contrary to common experience, events 
showed to be justifiable, he persuaded his father late in 
1843 — a few months after the issue of the firsjt volume of 
'Modem Painters,' and when he was in his twentieth 
year — ^to allow him to assume, temporarily at any rate, 
control of the publishing department. Under cautious 
conditions his father acceded to his wish, and Smith at 
once accepted for publication a collection of essays by 
various writers on well-known literary people, edited by 
the somewhat eccentric and impracticable author of 

* Orion,' Bichard Hengist Home. The enterprise called 
forth all Smith's energies. Not only did he supervise the 
production of the work, which was adorned by eight steel 
engravings, but, in constant interviews with the author, 
he freely urged alterations in the text which he deemed 
needful to conciliate public taste. The book appeared, 
in February 1844, in two volumes, with the title * The 
New Spirit of the Age,' and Smith had the satisfaction of 
securing for his firm fair pecuniary profit from this his 
earliest publication. Another edition was reached in July. 
His second publishing venture was from the pen of a 
somewhat miscellaneous practitioner in Uterature, Mrs. 
Baron Wilson, who had contributed to Miss Sheridan's 

* Diadem ' as well as to * Friendship's Offering.' For her 
he published, also in 1844 (in June), another work in two 
volumes, ' Our Actresses, or Glances at Stage Favourites 
Past and Present,' with five engravings in each volume, 
including portraits of Miss O'Neill, Miss Helen Faucit, and 
Mrs. Charles Kean. His third literary undertaking in the 
first year of his publishing career was of more permanent 
interest ; it was Leigh Hunt's ' Imagination and Fancy.' 

It was characteristic of Smith's whole life as a pub- 



MEMOnt OF GEOBGE SMITH 13 

lisher that he was never content to maintain with authors 
merely formal business relations. From boyhood the 
personality of writers of repute deeply interested him, and 
that interest never diminished at any point of his career. 
In early manhood he was rarely happier than in the 
society of authors of all degrees of ability. With a city 
clerk of literary leanings, Thomas Powell,^ he was as a 
youth on friendly terms, and at Powell's house at Peckham 
he was first introduced to, or came to hear of, many 
rising men of letters. It was there that he first met 
Home, and afterwards Bobert Browning. It was there 
that he found the manuscript of Leigh Hunt's ' Imagina- 
tion and Fancy,' and at once visited the author in 
Edwardes Square, Kensington, with a generous offer for 
the rights of publication which was immediately accepted. 
Thenceforth Leigh Hunt was a valued literary acquaint- 
ance, and Smith published for him a whole library of at- 
tractive essays or compilations. Another house at which 
he was a frequent guest at this early period was that of 
Buskin's father at Denmark Hill. Powell introduced him 
to a small convivial club, called the Museum Club, which 
met in a street off the Strand. Douglas Jerrold and 
Father Prout were prominent members. There he first 
made the acquaintance of George Henry Lewes, who 
became a lifelong associate. The club, however, f eU 
into pecuniary diflSculties, from which Smith strove in 
vain to relieve it, and it quickly dissolved. 

The grim realities of life were soon temporarily to 
restrict Smith's opportunities of recreation. Towards the 
end of 1844 a grave calamity befell his family. His 
father's health failed ; softening of the brain declared it- 
self ; and recovery was seen to be hopeless. The elder 

^ In 1849 Powell emigrated to America, where he became a professional 
man of letters, and published some frankly ill-natured sketches of writers 
he had met, under the title of Living Authors of England ; this was 
followed by Living Aitthora of America (first series, 1850). 



14 MEMOIB OF QEOBGE SMITH 

Smith removed from Demnark Hill to Boxhill, where he 
acquired some eight to ten acres of land, and developed a 
lively interest in farming. But he was unable to attend 
to the work of the firm, and his place at Comhill was 
taken by his son very soon after he came of age in 1845. 
On May 3, 1846, George Smith was admitted by patrimony 
a freeman of the Stationers' Company, and little more 
than three months later his father died, at the age of 
fifty-seven (Aug. 21, 1846). Thereupon the whole re- 
sponsibility of providing for his mother, his young brothers 
and sisters, devolved upon him. 

II 

Smith had no sooner addressed himself to his heavy 
task than he found himself face to face with a crisis in the 
affairs of the firm of exceptional difficulty for so young a 
man to grapple with. The third partner was discovered 
to be misusing the firm's credit and capital, and had to 
withdraw from the partnership under circumstances that 
involved grave anxiety to all concerned.^ Elder, who had 
not of late years given close attention to the business, 
made up his mind to retire almost at the same time.^ 
Smith was thus left to conduct single-heuided the firm's 
affairs at a moment when the utmost caution and financial 
skill were required to maintain its equilibrium. Although 
no more than twenty-two, he proved himself equal to tiie 
situation. By a rare combination of sagacity and daring, 
by a masterfT:d yet tactful exercise of authority, and by 
unremitting application, he was able to set the firm's 
affairs in order, to unravel the complications due to 
neglected bookkeeping, and to launch the concern anew 
on a career of prosperity far greater than that it had 
previously known. 

* He went to India and died at Calcutta, Jan. 18, 1852. 

* Bir. Elder left London and died some thirty years later, on Feb. 6, 
1876, at Lancing, at the age of eighty-six. 



MEMOIR OP GEORGE SMITH 16 

For a time the major part of his energies and business 
instinct was devoted to the control and extension of the 
agency and banking department. It is difficult to over- 
estimate the powers of work which he brought to his task. 
'It was a common thing for me/ he wrote of this period, 
'and many of the clerks to work until three or four 
o'clock in the morning, and occasionally, when there was 
but a short interval between the arrival and departure' of 
the Indian mails, I used to start work at nine o'clock of 
one morning, and neither leave my room nor cease dictat- 
ing until seven o'clock the next evening, when the mail 
was despatched. During these thirty-two hours of con- 
tinuous work I was supported by mutton chops and green 
tea at stated intervals. I believe I maintained my health 
by active exercise on foot and horseback, and by being 
able, after these excessive stretches of work, to sleep 
soundly for many hours ; on these occasions I generally 
got to bed at about eleven, and slept till three or four 
o'clock the next afternoon.' ^ 

Astonishing success followed Smith's efforts. The 
profits rose steadily, and the volume of business, which 
was well under 50,000Z. when he assumed control of the 
concern, multiplied thirteen times within twenty years of 
his becoming its moving spirit. The clerks at Comhill in 
a few years numbered 150. An important branch was 
established at Bombay, and other agencies were opened at 
Java and on the West Coast of Africa. There was no 
manner of merchandise for which Smith's clients could 
apply to him in vain. Scientific instruments for survey- 
ing purposes, the testing of which needed the closest 
supervision, were regularly forwarded to the Indian 
government. The earliest electric telegraph plant that 
reached India was despatched from Comhill. It was an 
ordinary experience to export munitions of war. On one 
occasion Smith was able to answer the challenge of a 

> ComhUl Magaginet Deoember 1900. 



16 MEMOIB OF OEOBQE SMITHs 

scoffer who thought to name an exceptional article 
of commerce — ^a human skeleton — which it would be 
beyond his power to supply, by displaying in his office 
two or three waiting to be packed for transit. 

Smith's absorption in the intricate details of the 
firm's general operations prevented him from paying close 
attention to the minutisB of the publishing department ; 
but the fascination that it exerted on him never slept, and 
he wisely brought into the office one who was well 
qualified to give him literary counsel, and could be 
trusted to keep the department faithful to the best 
traditions of English publishing. His choice fell on 
William Smith Williams, who for nearly thirty years 
acted as his 'reader' or literary adviser. The circum- 
stances under which he invited Williams's co-operation 
illustrate the accuracy with which he measured men and 
their qualifications. At the time the two met, Williams 
was clerk to Hullmandel & Walter, a firm of lithographers 
who were working for Smith, Elder, & Co. on Darwin''S 
'The Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle.' On assuming the 
control of the Comhill business Smith examined with 
Williams the somewhat complicated accounts of that 
undertaking. After very brief intercourse he perceived 
that Williams was an incompetent bookkeeper, but had 
exceptional literary knowledge and judgment. No time 
was lost in inducing Williams to enter the service 
of Smith, Elder, & Co., and the arrangement proved 
highly beneficial and congenial to both.^ But Smith 

1 Williftm Smith WiUiams (1800-1875) played a usefol part behind the 
scenes of the theatre of nineteenth-oentnry literature. He was by nature 
too modest to gain any wide reoognition. He began active life in 1817 as 
apprentice to the publishing firm of Taylor & Hessey of Fleet Street, who 
published writings of Charles Lamb, Coleridge, and Keats, and became in 
1821 proprietors of the London Mciffasine. Williams cherished from boy- 
hood a genuine love of literature, and received much kindly notice from 
eminent writers associated with Taylor & Hessey. Besides Keats, he came 
to know Leigh Hunt and William Hazlitt. Marrying at twenty-five he 
opened a bookshop on his own account in a court near the Poultry, but 



MBMOIB OP GBOBGB SMITH 17 

delegated to none the master's responsibility in any 
branch of the business, and, though publishing nego- 
tiations were thenceforth often initiated by Williams, 
there were few that were not concluded personally by 
Smith. 

For some time after he became sole owner and ma- 
nager at Comhill, Smith felt himself in no position to 
run large risks in the publishing department. A cautious 
policy was pursued ; but fortune proved kind. It was 
necessary to carry to completion those great works of 
scientific travel by Sir Andrew Smith, Hinds, and Darwin, 
the publication of which had been not only contracted for, 
but was actually in progress during Smith's pupilage. 
The firm had also undertaken the publication of a magnum 
opus of Sir John Herschel — his * Astronomical Observa- 
tions made at the Gape of Good Hope' — towards the 
expense of which the Duke of Northumberland had offered 

insuffioieut capital compelled him to relinquish this venture in 1827, when 
he entered the comiting-house of the lithographic printers, Hnllmandel & 
Walter, where Smith met him. At that time he was devoting his leisure to 
articles on literary or theatrical topics for the Spectator, Athencsum, and 
other weekly papers. During the thirty years that he spent in Smith's 
employ he won, by his sympathetic criticism and kindly courtesy, the 
cordial regard of many distinguished authors whose works Smith, Elder, & 
Co. published. The paternal consideration that he showed to Charlotte 
Bront3 is well known ; it is fully described in Mrs. Gaskell's Life of Miss 
Brontg. * He was my first favourable critic,* wrote Charlotte BrontS in 
December 1847 ; * he first gave me encouragement to persevere as an author.' 
When she first saw him at Oomhill in 1848, she described him as * a pale, 
mild, stooping man of fifty.' Subsequently she thought him too much given 
to * contemplative theorising,' and possessed by *too many abstractions.' 
With Thackeray, Buskin, and Lewes he was always on very friendly terms. 
During his association with Smith he did no independent literary work 
beyond helping to prepare for the firm, in 1861, a Selection from the 
Writings of John Bvuikirk. He was from youth a warm admirer of Buskin, 
sharing especially his enthusiasm for Turner. Williams retired from 
Smith, Elder, & Co.'s business in February 1875, and died six months 
later, aged 75, at his residence at Twiokex^am (August 21). His eldest 
daughter was the wife of Mr. Lowes Dickinson, the well-known portrait 
painter; and his youngest daughter, Miss Anna Williams, achieved 
distinction as a singer. 

O 



18 MEMOIR OF GEORGE SMITH 

1,000Z. The work duly appeared in 1846 in royal quarto, 
with eighteen plates, at the price of four guineas. A like 
obligation incurred by the firm in earlier days was fulfilled 
by the issue, also in 1846, of the naturalist Hugh Fal- 
coner's * Fauna Antiqua Sivalensis/ Nine parts of this 
important work were issued at a guinea each in the course 
of the three years 1846-9. In 1846, too, Buskin com- 
pleted the second volume of his 'Modem Painters,' of 
which an edition of 1,500 copies was issued ; and in 1849 
Smith brought out the second of Buskin's great prose 
works, 'The Seven Lamps of Architecture,' which was 
the earliest of Buskin's books that was welcomed with 
practical warmth on its original publication. 

In fiction the chief author with whom Smith in the 
first years of his reign at Comhill was associated was the 
grandiloq;5Sjit writer of blood-c^rdlingj^ji^ce, G. P. B. 
James. In 1844 Smith,^Erder, & Co. had begun an 
elaborate collected edition of his works, of which they 
issued eleven volumes by 1847, ten more being undertaken 
by another firm. Unhappily Smith, Elder, & Go. had also 
indepehdently entered into a contract with James to pub- 
lish every new novel that he should write ; 600Z. was to 
be paid for the first edition of 1,250 copies. The arrange- 
ment lasted for four years, and then sank beneath its own 
weight. The firm issued two novels by James in each of 
the years 1845, 1846, 1847, and no less than three in 1848. 
Each work was in three volumes, at the customary price 
of 3l5. 6d. ; so that between 1845 and 1848 Smith offered 
the public twenty-seven volumes from James's pen at a 
total cost to the purchasers of thirteen and a half guineas. 
James's fertility was clearly greater than the public 
approved. The publisher requested him to set limits to 
his annual output. He indignantly declined, but Smith 
persisted with success in his objections to the novelist's 
interpretation of the original agreement, and author and 
publisher parted company. In 1848 Smith issued a novel 



MBMOIB OP GEORGE SMITH 19 

by his friend, George Henry Lewes, entitled 'Bose, 
Blanche, and Violet.' Although much was expected 
from it, nothing came. 

While the tragi-comedy of James was in its last stage, 
Smith became the hero of a publishing idyll which had 
the best possible effect on his reputation as a publisher 
and testified at the same time to his genuine kindness of 
heart. Few episodes in the publishing history of the 
nineteenth century are of higher interest than the story 
of his association with Charlotte Bronte. In July 1847 
Williams called Smith's attention to a manuscript novel 
entitled ' The Professor,' which had been sent to the firm 
by an author writing under the name of * Currer Bell.' 
The manuscript showed signs of having vainly sought the 
favour of other publishing houses. Smith and his assist- 
ant recognised the promise of the work, but neither 
thought it likely to be a successful publication. While 
refusing it, however, they encouraged the writer in kindly 
and appreciative terms to submit another effort. The 
manuscript of ' Jane Eyre ' arrived at Comhill not long 
afterwards. Williams read it and handed it to Smith. 
The young publisher was at once fascinated by its sur- 
passing power, and purchased the copyright out of hand. 
He always regarded the manuscript, which he retained, 
as the most valued of his literary treasures. He lost no 
time in printing it, and in 1848 the reading world recog- 
nised that he had introduced to its notice a novel of 
abiding fame. Later in 1848 * Shirley,' by ' Currer Bell,' 
was also sent to Comhill. So far ' Currer Bell ' had con- 
ducted the correspondence with the firm as if the writer 
were a man, but Smith shrewdly suspected that the name 
was a woman's pseudonym. His suspicions were con- 
firmed in the summer of 1848, when Charlotte Bronte, 
accompanied by her sister Anne, presented herself 
without warning at Comhill in order to explain some 
misxmderstanding which she thought had arisen in the 

c 2 



ao 



MEMOIB OV OEOBGE SMITH 



1 / - '-'^ 

-ti 



i r 



-k' 



"A"^ 



:lA^ 



.b> 



negotiations ior the publication of * Shirley.' From the 
date of the authoress's shy and unceremonious introduc- 
tion of herself to him at his office desk until her premature 
death some seven years later, Smith's personal relations 
with her were characterised by a delightfully unaffected 
chivalry. On their first visit to Gomhill he took Miss 
Btonte and her sister to the opera the same evening.. 
Smith's mother made their acquaintance next day, and they 
twice dined at her residence, then at 4 Westboume Place. 
Miss Bronte frankly confided to a friend a day or two later 
her impressions of her publisher-host. 'He is a firm, 
intelligent man of business, though so young [he was only 
twenty-four] ; bent on getting on, and I think desirous of 
making his way by fair, honourable means. He is enter- 
prising, but likewise cool and cautious. Mr« Smith is a 
ECactical man.' * 

. On this occasion the sisters stayed in London only 
jUbree dajsj But next year, in • November 1849^ Miss 
Bronte was the guest of Smith's mother at Westboume 
Place for nearly thjeejs?ea^ She visited the LondQp 
sights under Smith's guidance; he asked Thackeray, 
whose personal acquaintance he does not seem to have 
made previously, to dine: with him in order to satisfy her 
ambition of meeting the great novelist, whose work 
aroused in her the warmest enthusiasm. On ri^tuming to 
Haworth in December she wrote to Smith : * Very easy is 
it to discover that with you to gratify others is to gratify 
yourself ; to serve others is to aflford yourself a pleasure. 
I suppose you will experience your share of ingratitude 
and encroachments, but do not let them alter you.^ 
Happily they are the less likely to do this because you 
are half a Scotchman, and therefore must have inherited 
a fair share of prudence to qualify your generosity, and pf 
caution to protect your benevolence.' * 

* Comhill Magazine, December 1900; of. Gaskell's Idfe, ed. Shorter, 
p. 868n. 

* GaskelVs Lifef ed. Shorter, p. 483. 






MEMOIB OF aEOBGE SMITH 



21 






y'v<^ '? 



s~ %,* 



.c>- 



1^ 




Another visit— a fortnight long — followed in imne 
18fiQ, ptTYnth had then removed with his mother to 76 
afterwards 112) Gloucester Terrace. Miss Bronte re- 
newed her acquaintance with Thackeray, who invited 
her and her host to dine at his own house, and she met 
Lewes under Smith's roof. Before she quitted London 
on this occasion she sat to George Bichmond for her 
portrait at the instance of her host, who gratified her 
father by presenting him with the drawing together with 
an engraving of his and his daughter's especial hero, the 
Duke of Wellington. Next month, in July 1850, Smith 
made with a sister a toiur in the Highlands of Scotland, 
and he always remembered with pride a friendly meeting 
that befell him on the journey with Macaulay, who was 
on his way to explore Glencoe and Eilliecrankie. At 
^JTnT^tirgKlhe an d his sister were joined on his invitatiSH 
by Miss Bronte, and they devoted a few days to visitmg 
rliiih^dt'^^S' interest in the dty and its neighbour" 
Cbood, much to Miss Bronte's satisfaction. She travelled 
south with them, parting from them in Yorkshire for her 
hom..ftt HawprthjjFor a third time she was her sym- 
\ pathetic publisher's guest in London, in June 1851, when 
she stayed ^^n3pja]tb with his mother, and he took her to 
hear Thackeray's ' Lectures on the Humourists ' at 
Willis's Booms. In a letter addressed to Smith, on arriv- 
ing home, she described him as ^ the most spirited and 
vigilant of publishers.' In November 1852 Miss Bronte 
sent to the firm her manuscript of ' Villette,' in which she 
drew her portrait of Smith in the soundhearted, manly, 
and sensible Dr. John, while his mother was the original 
of Mrs. Bretton. In January 1853 Miss Bronte visited 
Smith and his family for the last time. They continued 
to correspond with each other till near her premature 
death on March 31, 1855. 

An interesting result of Smith's personal and 

' Mrs. Oaskell's lAfe of Cha/rlotU Br(mt», ed. Shorter, pp. 460 ag. 






22 MEMOIB OF GEOBGE SMITH 

professional relations with Charlotte Bronte was to make 
him known to such writers as were her friends— notably to 
Harriet Martineau and to Mrs. Gaskell, for both of whom 
he subsequently published much. But more important 
is it to record that Charlotte Bronte was a main link in 
the chain that drew a writer of genius far greater even 
than her own — Thackeray himself — into Smith's history 
and into the history of his firm. In the late autumn of 
1850, after the interchange of hospitalities which Miss 
Bronte's presence in London had prompted, Thackeray 
asked Smith for the first time to publish a book for him, 
his next Christmas book. It was a humorous sketch, 
with drawings by himself, entitled ' The Eickleburys on 
the Bhine.' Thackeray's regular publishers. Chapman 
& Hall, had not been successful with his re«ent Christmas 
iQQkS*.^^ Doctor Birch and his Young !B5iena^*"anJ^ 
' Bebecca and Boweua,' and they deprecated the issue of 
another that year. Smith had from early days, since he 
read th^ ' Paris Sketch-book ' by stealth in Tegg's sale 
rooms, cherished a genuine affection for Thackeray's work, 
and it had been a youthful ambition to publish for him. 
Williams had in his behalf made a vain bid for ' Vanity 
Fair ' in 1848. Smith now purchased the copyright of 
' The Eickleburys ' with alacrity, and it was published at 
Christmas 1850 in an edition of three thousand. Though 
it was heavily bombarded by the * Times,' it proved suc- 
cessful and at once reached a second edition.^ In 1851, 
when Smith heard that Thackeray was engaged on a new 
work of importance — which proved to be 'Esmond' — 
he called at his house in Young Street, Kensington, and 
offered him what was then the handsome sum of 1,200Z>, 
for the right of issuing the first edition of 2,500 copies.' 

* The Eickleburys bore on the title-page the actual year of publication, 
i.e. 1850. Thackeray's earlier and later Christmas books were each post- 
dated by a year. . Thus Bebeeca and Rowma, which bears the date 1850 
was published in December 1849. 

* Of. Mrs. Bitchie's ChapUnfrom some Memoirif 1894, p. 180. 



MEMOIR OP GEOBGE SMITH 23 

Thenceforth he was on close terms of intimacy with 
Thackeray. He was often at his house, and showed as 
tender a consideration for the novelist^s young daughters 
as for Thackeray himself. ' Esmond ' appeared in 1852 and 
was the first of Thackeray's novels to be published in the 
regulation trio of half-a-guinea volumes. Just before its 
publication, when Thackeray was preparing to start on a 
lecturing tour in America, Smith, with kindly thought, 
commissioned Samuel Laurence to draw Thackeray's 
portrait, so that his daughters might have a competent 
presentment of him at home during his absence. Before 
Thackeray's return Smith published his * Lectures on the 
English Humourists,' and, in order to make the volume of 
more presentable size, added elaborate notes by Thackeray's 
friend James Hannay. In December 1854 Smith pub- 
lished the best known of Thackeray's Christmas books, 
* The Bose and the Eing.' ^ 

III 

Meanwhile Smith's private and business life alike 
underwent important change. The pressure of constant 
application was, in 1853, telling on his health, and he re- 
solved to share his responsibilities with a partner. Henry 
Samuel King, a bookseller of Brighton, whose bookselling 
establishment is still carried on there by Treacher & Co., 
came to Comhill to aid in the generietl superintendence 
and to receive a quarter share of the profits. His previous 
experience naturally gave him a particular interest in the 
publishing department. On July 3, 1853, Charlotte Bronte 
wrote to Smith : * I hope your partner Mr. King will soon 
acquire a working faculty and leave you some leisure and 
opportunity effectually to cultivate health.' At the same 

^ Thackeray was not yet, however, exclusively identified with Smith, 
Elder, & Go. The Newcomes in 1853-6, a collected edition of Miscellaneous 
Writings In 1856-7 (4 vols.), and The VirginianSt 1867-9, were all issued 
by Bradbury & Evans 



24 MEMOIB OF 6E0BGE SMITH 

date Smith became engaged to Elizabeth, the daughter of 
John Blakeway, a wine merchant of London, and grand- 
daughter of Edward Blakeway, esq., of Broseley Hall, Shrop- 
shire. The marriage took place on February 11, 1864. 
For four years he and his wife lived at 112 Gloucester 
Terrace, where he had formerly resided with his mother. 
Subsequently they spent some time at Wimbledon, and at 
the end of 1859 they settled at 11 Gloucester Square. 

* Smith felt from the outset that the presence of a 
partner at Comhill hampered his independence, but it 
relieved him of some labour and set him free to entertain 
new developments of business. One of his early hopes 
was to become proprietor of a newspaper, and during 1854 
he listened with much interest to a suggestion made to him 
by Thackeray that the novelist should edit a daily sheet of 
general criticism after the manner of Addison and Steele's 
' Spectator * or ' Tatler.' The sheet was to be called ' Fair 
Play/ was to deal with literature as well as life, and was 
to be scrupulously frank and just in comment. But, as 
the discussion on the subject advanced, Thackeray feared 
to face the responsibilities of editorship, and Smith was 
left to develop the scheme for himself at a later period. 
Newspapers of more utilitarian type were, however, 
brought into being by him and his firm before the notion 
of * Fair Play ' was quite dropped. In 1866 Smith, Elder, 
& Co. started a weekly periodical called ' The Overland 
Mail,' of which Mr. (afterwards Sir) John Kaye became 
editor. It was to supply home information to readers in 
India. Next year a complementary periodical was inaugu- 
rated under the title of ' The Homeward Mail,' which was 
intended to offer Indian news to readers in the United 
Kingdom.. 'The Homeward Mail' was placed in the 
charge of E. B. Eastwick, the Orientalist. The two editors 
were already associated as authors with the firm. Both 
{)apers were appreciated by the clients of the firm's agency 
and banking departments, and are still in existence. 



MEMOIB OF GEOEGE SMITH 25 

In order to facilitate the issue of these * Mails ' Smith, 
Elda:, & Co. acquired for the first time a printing office of 
their own. They took over premises in Little Green 
Arbour Court, Old Bailey, which had been occupied by 
Stewart & Murray, a firm of printers whose partners were 
relatives of Mr. Elder. The house had been the home of 
Goldsmith, and Smith was much interested in that associ- 
ation. Until 1872; when the printing office was made 
over to Messrs. Spottiswoode & Co., a portion of Smith, 
Elder, & Co.^s general literary work was printed at their 
own press. 

In 1857 the progress of the firm received a temporary 
check. The outbreak of the Indian mutiny dislocated all 
Indian business, and Smith, Elder, and Co.*s foreign 
department suffered severely. Guns and ammunition 
were the commodities of which their clients in India then 
stood chiefly in need, and they were accordingly sent out 
in ample quantities. Jacob's Horse and Hodson's Horse 
were both largely equipped from Cornhill, and the clerks 
there had often little to do beyond oiling and packing 
revolvers. It was a time of grave anxiety for the head of 
the firm. The telegraph wires were constantly bringing 
him distressing news of the murder of the firm's clients, 
many of whom were personally known to him. The 
massacres in India also meant pecuniary loss. Accounts 
were left unpaid, and it was difficult to determine the 
precise extent of outstanding debts that would never be 
discharged. But Smith's sanguine and resourceful temper 
enabled him to weather the storm, and the crisis passed 
without permanent injury to his position. Probably more 
damaging to the immediate interests of Smith, Elder, & 
Co. was the transference of the government of India in 
1858 from the old Company to the Crown. Many of the 
materials for public works which private firms had sup- 
plied to the old East India Company and their officers 
were now provided by the new India Office without the 



26 MEMOIB OF 6E0BGE SMITH 

interventidn of agents ; and the operations of Smith, Elder, 
& Co.'s Indian branch had to seek other channels than of old. 
The publishing department invariably afforded Smith 
a means of distraction from the pressure of business cares 
elsewhere. Its speculative character, which his caution 
and sagacity commonly kept within reasonable limits of 
safety, appealed to one side of his nature, while the social 
intimacies which the work of publishing fostered appealed 
strongly to another side. The rapid strides made in 
public favour by Ruskin, wljiose greatest works Smith 
published between 1850 and 1860, were an unfailing source 
of satisfaction. In i860 he had produced Buskin's 
fanciful ' King of the Golden Biver.* Next year came the 
first volume of ' Stones of Venice,' the pamphlets on * The 
/ 5^ $^/ Construction of Sheepfolds,' and ' Pre-Eaphaelitism,' and 
the portfolio of * Examples of the Architecture of Vemce.' 
The two remaining volumes of 'Stones of Venice' 
followed in 1853. In 1854 appeared 'Lectures on 
Architecture and Painting,' with two pamphlets; and 
then began the 'Notes on the Eoyal Academy,' which 
were continued each year till 1859. In 1856 came the 
elaborately illustrated third and fourth volumes of 
'Modem Painters;' in 1857, 'Elements of Drawing,' 
'Political Economy of Art,' and 'Notes on Turner's 
Pictures ; ' in 1858, an engraving by HoU of Bichmond's 
drawing of Buskin ; in 1859, ' The Two Paths,' ' Elements 
of Perspective,' and the ' Oxford Museum ; ' and in 1860, 
the fifth and final volume of ' Modem Painters.' The 
larger books did not have a rapid sale, but many of the 
cheaper volumes and pamphlets sold briskly. It was at 
Buskin's e:^pense, too, that Smith prepared for publication 
the first volume that was written by Buskin's friend, 
Dante Gabriel Bossetti, ' The Early Italian Poets,' 1861. 
In 1850 Buskin's father proved the completeness of his 
confidence in Smith by presenting him with one of the 
few copies of the volume of his son's ' Poems ' which his 



MEMOIR OF GEOBGE SMITH 27 

paternal pride had caused to be printed privately. Smith 
remained through this period a constant visitor at the 
Buskins' house at Denmark Hill, and there he made the 
welcome addition to his social circle of a large number of 
artists. Of these Millais became the fastest of friends ; 
while Leighton, John Leech, Bichard Doyle, (Sir) 
Frederic Burton, and the sculptor Alexander Monro were 
always held by him in high esteem. 

It was at Buskin's house that Smith was introduced 
to Wilkie Collins, son of a well-known artist. He 
declined to publish CoUins's first story, ' Antonina,' because 
the topic seemed too classical for general taste, and he 
neglected some years later to treat quite seriously CoUins's 
offer of his * Woman in White,' with the result that a 
profitable investment was missed ; but in 1856 he accepted 
the volume of short stories called 'After Dark,' and thus 
began business relations with Collins which lasted inter- 
mittently for nearly twenty years. 

In the late fifties Charlotte Bronte's introduction of 
Smith to Harriet Martineau bore practical fruit. In 1858 
he issued a new edition of her novel ' Deerbrook,' as well 
as her ' Suggestions towards the future Government of 
India.' These were followed by pamphlets respectively 
on the ' Endowed Schools of Ireland ' and ' England and 
her Soldiers,' and in 1861 by her well-known ' House- 
hold Education.' Subsequently he published her auto- 
biography, the greater part of which she had caused to be 
put into type and to be kept in readiness for circulation 
as soon as her death should take place. The firm also 
undertook the publication of the many tracts and 
pamphlets in which William Ellis, the zealous disciple of 
John Stuart Mill, urged improved methods of education 
during the middle years of the century. To a like 
category belonged Madame Yenturi's translation of 
Mazzini's woriss, which Smith, Elder, & Co. issued in six 
volumes between 1864 and 1870. 



^ MEMOIB 6f GEOBGE SMITH 

At the same period as he became Miss Martinean's 
publisher there began Smith's interesting connection with 
Mrs. Gaskell, which was likewise due to Charlotte Bronte. 
Late in 1855 Mrs. Gaskell set ta work, at the request of 
Charlotte Bronte's father, on his daughter's life. She 
gleaned many particulars from Smith and his mother, 
and natiurally requested him to publish the book, which 
proved to be one of the best biographies in the language. 
But its publication (in 1857) involved him in unwonted 
anzietiea. Mrs. Gaskell deemed it a point of conscience 
to attribute, for reasons that she gave in detail, the ruin of 
Miss Bronte's brother Branwell to the machinationa of a 
lady, to whose children he had acted as tutor. As soon as 
Smith learned Mrs. Gaskell's intention he warned her of 
the possible consequences. The warning passed unheeded. 
The offensive particulars appeared in the biography, and, 
as soon as it was published, an action for libel was 
threatened. Mrs. Gaskell was travelling in France at 
the moment, and her address was unknown. Smith 
investigated the matter for himself, and, perceiving that 
Mrs. Gaskell's statements were not legally justifiable, 
withdrew the book from circulation. In later editions 
the offending passages were suppressed. Sir James 
Stephen, on behalf of friends of the lady whose character 
was aspersed, took part in the negotiations, and on their 
conclusion handsonaely conmiended Smith's conduct. 

rv 

In the opening months of 1859 Smith turned his 
attention to an entirely new publishing venture. He 
then laid the foundations of the ' Comhill Magazine,' the 
first of the three great literary edifices which he reared by 
his own effort. It was his intimacy with Thackeray that 
led Smith to establish the 'Comhill Magazine.' The 
periodical originally was designed with the sole object of 



MEMOIB OF GBOBGE SMITH 3» 

affering the public a novel by Thackeray in serial instal- 
ments combined with a liberal allowance of other first-, 
rate literary matter. In February 1859 Smith offered 
Thackeray tiie liberal terms of 350(7. for a monthly instalment 
of a novel, which was to be completed in twelve numbers. 
The profits on separate publication of the work, after the 
first edition, were to be equally divided between author 
and publisher. Thackeray agreed to these condition^ ; but 
it was only after Smith had failed in various quarters to 
secure a fitting editor for the new venture — Tom Hughes 
was among those who were invited and declined — ^that he 
appealed to Thackeray to fill the editorial chair. He 
proposed a salary of 1,0002. a year. Thackeray consented 
to take the post on the imderstanding that Smith should 
assist him in business details. Thackeray christened the 
periodical ' The Comhill ' after its publishing home, and 
chose for its cover the familiar design by Godfrey Sykes, 
a South Kensington art student. The 'Comhill' was 
launched on January 1, 1860. The first number reached 
a sale of one hundred and twenty thousand copies. 
Although so vast a circulation wa^ not maintained, the 
magazine for many years enjoyed a prosperity that was 
without precedent in the annals of English periodical 
publications. 

Thackeray's fame and genius rendered services to the 
' Comhill ' that are not easy to exaggerate. He was not 
merely editor, but by far the largest contributor. Besides 
his novel of 'Lovelthe Widower,* which ran through the 
early numbers, he supplied each month a delightful 
* Eoundabout Paper,' which was deservedly paid at the 
high rate of twelve guineas a page. But identified as 
Thackeray was with the success of the ^ Cornhill ' — ^an 
identification which Smith acknowledged by doubling his 
editcaial salary — Thackeray would have been the first to 
admit that the practical triumphs of the enterprise were 
largely the fruits of the energy, resourcefulness, and 



9k) MBMOIB OF GBOBQE SMITH 

liberality of the proprietor. There was no writer of emin- 
ence, there was hardly an artist of distinguished merit (for 
the magazine was richly illustrated), whose co-operation 
Smith, when planning with Thackeray the early numbers, 
did not seek, often in a personal interview, on terms of 
exceptional munificence. Associates of earlier date, like 
John Buskin and George Henry Lewes among authors, 
and Millais, Leighton, and Bichard Doyle among artists, 
were requisitioned as a matter of course. Lewes was an 
indefatigable contributor from the start. Buskin wrote a 
paper on ' Sir Joshua and Holbein ' for the third number, 
but Buskin's subsequent participation brought home to 
Smith and his editor the personiJ embarrassments inevit- 
able in the conduct of a popular magazine by an editor 
and a publisher, both of whom were rich in eminent literary 
friends. When, later in the first year, Buskin sent for 
serial issue a treatise on political economy, entitled ' Unto 
this Last,' his doctrine was seen to be too deeply tainted 
with socialistic heresy to conciliate subscribers. Smith 
published four articles and then informed the author that 
the editor could accept no more. Sinith afterwards issued 
'Unto this Last' in a separate volume, but the forced 
cessation of the papers in the magazine impaired the old 
cordiality of intercourse between author and publisher. 

The magazine necessarily brought Smith into relations 
with many notable writers and artists of whom he had 
known little or nothing before. He visited Tennyson and 
offered him 5,0002. for a poem of the length of the ' Idylls 
of the King.' This was declined, but 'Tithonus' ap- 
peared in the second number. Another poet, a friend 
of Thackeray, who first came into relations with Smith 
through the ' Comhill,' was Mrs. Browning, whose 
'Great God Pan,' illustrated by Leighton, adorned the 
seventh number (July 1860). The artist Frederick 
Walker, who was afterwards on intimate terms vrith 
Smith, casually called at the office as a lad and asked for 



MEMOIB OF QEOBGB SMITH 31 

work on the magazine. SUs capacities were tested with- 
out delay, and he illustrated the greater part of * Philip , 
the second novel that Thackeray wrote for the ' ComhillJ 
It was Leighton who suggested to Smith that he should 
give a trial as an illustrator to George Du Maurier, who 
quickly became one of the literary and artistic acquaint- 
ances in whose society he most delighted. 

Two essayists of different type, although each was 
endowed with distinctive style and exceptional insight, 
Fitzjames Stephen and Matthew Arnold, were among the 
most interesting of the early contributors to the * Corz:diill.' 
Stephen contributed two articles at the end of 1860, and 
through the years 1861-3 wrote as many as eight annually 
— on literary, philosophical, and social subjects. 

Matthew Arnold's work for the magazine was of great 
value to its reputation. His essay on Eugenie de Gu6rin 
(June 1863) had the distinction of bearing at the end the 
writer's name. That was a distinction almost unique in 
those days, for the ' Comhill ' then as a rule jealously 
guarded the anonymity of its authors. On June 16, 1863, 
Arnold wrote to his mother of his Oxford lecture on 
Heine : ^ I have had two applications for the lecture from 
magazines, but I shall print it, if I can, in the <' Comhill,^' 
because it both pays best and has much the largest circle 
of readers. ''Eugenie de Guirin" seems to be much 
liked/ ^ The lecture on Heine appeared in the ' Comhill ' 
for October 1863. The hearty welcome given his articles 
by the conductors of the * Comhill ' inspired Arnold with 
a 'sense of gratitude and surprise.' A paper by him 
entitled *My Countrymen' in February 1866 *made a 
good deal of talk.' There followed his fine lectures on 
' Celtic Literature,' and the articles which were reissued 
by Smith, Elder, & Co. in the characteristic volumes 
entitled respectively ^Culture and Anarchy' (1868), 'St. 

> Letters of M. Amol4, ed. G. W. E. Bossell, i. 195. 



S3 MEMOIB OF OBOBGE SMITH 

Paul and Protestantism* (1861), and 'Literature and 
Dogma' (1871). 

With both Fitzjames Stephen and Matthew Arnold 
Smith maintained almodt from their first introduction to 
the * Comhill ' close personal intercourse. He especially 
enjoyed his intimacy with Matthew Arnold, whose idio- 
syncrasies charmed him as much as his light-hearted 
banter. He published for Arnold nearly all his numerous 
prose works, and showed every regard for him and his 
family. While Arnold was residing in the country at a 
later period, Smith provided a room for him at his pub- 
lishing offices in Waterloo Place when he had occasion to 
stay the night in town.^ 

Chief among novelists whom the inauguration of the 
* Comhill Magazine ' brought permanently to Smith's side 
was Anthony TroUope. . He had already made some 
reputation with novels dealing with clerical life, and when 
in October 1859 he offered his services to Thackeray as a 
writer of short stories — he was then personally unknown to 
both Smith and Thackeray — Smith promptly (on October 
26) offered him 1,0002. for the copyright of a clerical novel 
to run serially from the first number, provided only that 
the first portion should be forwarded by December 12, 
TroUope was already engaged on an Irish story, but a 
clerical novel would alone satisfy Smith. In the result 
Trollop^4began ' Framley Parsonage,' and Smith invited 
Millais to illustrate it. Thackeray courteously accorded 

' Cf. Arnold's Letters, ed. G. W. E. Bnssell. On May 31, 1871, Arnold 
writes to his mother : * I have oome in to dine with George Smith in order 
to meet old Charles Lever ' (ii. 67). On October 2, 1874, he writes again : ' I 
have been two nights splendidly put up at G. Smith's [residence in South 
Kensington], and shall be two nights there next week. I like now to dine 
anywhere rather than at a club, and G. Smith has a capital billiard table, 
and after dinner we play billiards, which I like very much, and it suits me ' 
(ii. 117). Writing from his home at Cobham to his sister on December 27, 
1886, Arnold notes : * We were to have dined with the George Smiths at 
Walton to-night, but can neither go nor telegraph. The roads are impassable 
and the telegraph wires broken ' (ii. 860). 



MEMOIB OF GEOBOE SMITH 33 

the first place in the first number (January 1860) to thie 
initial instalment of Trollope's novel. Trollope was long 
a mainstay of the magazine, and his private relations with 
Smith were very intimate. In August 1861 he began a 
second story, entitled 'The Struggles of Brown, Jones, 
and Bobinson,' a humorous satire on the ways of trade, 
which proved a failure. Six hundred pounds was paid for 
it, but Smith made no complaint, merely remarking to the 
author that he did not think it equal to his usual work. 
In September 1862 Trollope offered reparation by sending 
to the 'Comhiir 'The Small House at Allington.' 
Finally, in 1866-7, Trollope's * Claverings ' appeared in 
the magazine; for this he received 2,800Z. 'Whether 
much or little,' Trollope wrote, 'it was offered by the 
proprietor, and paid in a single cheque.' When contrast- 
ing his experiences as contributor to other periodicals 
with those he enjoyed as contributor to the 'Gomhill,' 
Trollope wrote, * What I wrote for the " Comhill 
Magazine" I always wrote at the instigation of Mr. 
Smith.' 1 

George Henry Lewes had introduced Smith to George 
Eliot soon after their union in 1854. Her voice and con- 
versation always filled Smith with admiration, and when 
the Leweses settled at North Bank in 1868 he was rarely 
absent from her Sunday receptions until they ceased at 
Lewes's death in 1878. Early in 1862 she read to him a 
portion of the manuscript of 'Bomola,' and he gave 
practical proof of his faith in her genius by offering her 
10,0002. for the right of issuing the novel serially in the 
* ComhiU Magazine,' and of subsequent separate publica- 
tion. The reasonable condition was attached that the 
story should first be distributed over sixteen numbers of 
the * Comhill.' George Eliot agreed to the terms, but 
embarrassments followed. She deemed it necessary to 
divide the story into twelve parts instead of the stipulated 

' Anthony Trollope*s AtUobiography, i. 281* 



U MEM OIB OF GB0B6E SMITH 

sixteen. From a business point of view the change, as 
the authoress frankly acknowledged, anionnted to a s^dons 
breach of contract, but she was deaf to both Smith's and 
Lewes's appeal to h^ to respect the original agreement. 
She offered, however, in consideration ol her obstinacy, to 
accept the reduced remuneration of 7,0002. The story 
was not completed by the authoress when she settled this 
serial division. Ultimately she discovered that she had 
miscalculated the length which the story would reach, 
and, after all, ' Bomola ' ran through fourteen numbers of 
the magazine (July 1862 to August 1863). Leigh ton was 
chosen by Smith to illustrate the story. The whole 
transaction was not to Smith's pecuniary advantage, but 
the cordiality of his relations with the authoress remained 
unchecked. Her story of * Broths Jacob,' which appeared 
in the ' Comhill ' in July 1864, was forwarded to him as a 
free gift. Afterwards, in 1866, she sent him the manu- 
script of ' Felix Holt,' but after reading it he did not feel 
justified in accepting it at the price of 5,0002., which 
George Eliot or Lewes set upon it. 

Meanwhile, in March 1862 the * Gornhill ' had suffered 
a severe blow through the sudden resignation of the 
editor, Thackeray. He found the thorns in the editorial 
cushion too sharp-pointed for his sensitive nature. Smith 
keenly regretted his decision to retire, but when Thackeray 
took public farewell of his post in a brief article in the 
magazine for April (' To Contributors and Correspondents,' 
dated March 18, 1862), the novelist stated that, though 
editor no more, he hoped ' long to remain to contribute to 
my friend's magazine.' This hope was realised up to the 
moment of Thackeray's unexpected death on December 23,. 
1868. His final <Boundabout Paper '—' Strange to 
say on Club Paper '—appeared in the magazine for the 
preceding November, and he had neariy completed bis 
novel, ' Denis Duval,' which was to form the chief serial 
story in the f Comhill ' during 1864. Nor was Thackeray 



MEMOIB €fE GB0B6E SMITH 35 

the only m^mbte of his family who was in these early 
days a contribntor io the nu^gazine. Thackeray's daughter 
(Mrs. Biohmond Bitchie) had contribute a paper called 
'Little Scholars' to the fifth number While her father 
was editor^ and in 1862, after his withdrawal, Smith 
accepted het novel, 'The Story of Elizabeth,' the fixst 
of many from the same pen to appear serially in the 
'ConzhilL' Thackeray's death naturally caused Smith 
intense pain. He at once did all he could to aid his 
friend's daughters. In consultation with their friends, 
Herman Merivale, (Sir) Henry Cole, and Fitzjames 
Stephen, he ptirchased l^eir rights in their father's 
booki^, and by arrangement with Thackeray's other pub- 
lishers. Chapman & Hall and Bradbury & Evans, who 
owned part shares in some of his works, acquired the 
whole of Thackeray's literary property. He kibsequently 
published no less than seven complete collections of 
Thackeray's works in different forms, the earliest-^the 
* Library Edition ' in twenty-two volumes— ^appearing in 
1867-9. Thackeray's daughters stayed with Smith's 
family at Brighton in the early days of their sorrow, and 
he wad gratified to receive a letter from Thackeray's 
mother, Mrs. Carmicfaael Smyth, thanking him for his 
resourceful kindness (August 24, 1864). 'I rejoice,' she 
wrote, ' that such a friend is assured to my grandchildren.' 
Her expressions were w^ justified. Until Smith's death 
there subsisted a dose fri^idship between him and 
ThackersQr's elder daughter (Mrs. Bitchie), and he was 
fittingly godfather of Thackeray's granddaughter (Mrs. 
Bitchie's daughter). 

On Thackeray's withdrawal from the editorship the 
office was temporarily placed in conunission. Smith in- 
vited Lewes and Mr. Frederick (Greenwood, a young 
loumalist who had contributed to the second number a 
striking paper, ' An Essay without End,' to aid himself 
in conducting the magazine. This arrangement lasted 

T> 2 



36 MBMOIB OF GBOBGE SMITH 

two years. In 1864 Lewes retired, and Mr. Greenwood 
filled the editorial chair alone until his absorption in 
other work in 1868 compelled him to delegate most of his 
fonctions to Button Cook. 

A singular and somewhat irritating experience befell 
Smith as proprietor in 1869. In April 1868 a gossiping 
article' called * Don Bicardo ' nanated some adventures of 
' General Plantagenet Harrison/ a name which the writer 
believed to be wholly imaginary. In June 1869 Smith 
was proceeded against for Ubel by one who actuaUy bore 
that designation. It seemed difficult to treat the grievance 
seriously, but the jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff, 
and assessed the damages at 50Z. In March 1871 Mr. 
Dutton Cook withdrew from the editorship of the * Corn- 
hill.' Thereupon Mr. Leslie Stephen became editor, and 
Smith practically left the whole direction in the new 
editor's hands. 

Until Mr. Stephen's advent Smith had comparatively 
rarely left the helm of his fascinating venture. His con- 
tributor Trollope always maintained that throughout the 
sixties Smith's hand exclusively guided the fortunes of 
the ' Comhill.' ^ It was certainly he alone who contrived 
to secure most of the important contributions during the 
later years of the decade. On Thackeray's death he in- 
vited Charles Dickens to supply for the February number 
of 1864 an article 'In Memoriam.' Dickens promptly 
acceded, and declined to accept payment for his article. 
It was to Smith personally that George Eliot presented 
her story of 'Brother Jacob,' which appeared in July 
following. A year before, he had undertaken the publica- 
tion of two novels, * Sylvia's Lovers ' and ' A Dark Night's 
Work,' by his acquaintance of earlier days, Mrs. Gaskell, 
and at the same time he arranged for the serial issue in 
the magazine of ' Cousin Phillis,' a new novel (1868-4), 
as well as of her final novel of ' Wives and Daughters.' 

* Anihony Trollope'a Autobiography^ ii. 125« 



MEMOIR OF QBOBGB SMITH 37 

The last began in August 1864, and landed in January 1866. 
With the sum of 2,000Z. which was paid for the work, 
Mrs. Gaskell purchased a country house at Holyboume, 
near Alton, where, before she had completed the manu- 
script of her story, she died suddenly on November 12, 
1865. The relations existing between Smith and Mrs. 
Gaskell and her daughters at the time of her death were 
of the friendliest, and his friendship with the daughters 
proved lifelong. As in the case of Thackeray's works, he 
soon purchased the copyrights of all Mrs. Gaskell's books, 
and issued many attractive collections of them. He was 
also responsible for the serial appearance in the ' Corn- 
hill ' of Wilkie CoUins's ' Armadale,' which was continued 
through the exceptional number of twenty parts (November 
1864 to June 1866) ; of Miss Thackeray's ' Village on the 
Cliff,' which appeared in 1866-7 ; of three stories by 
Charles Lever — *The Bramleighs of Bishop's Folly,' 
* That Boy of Norcott's,' and * Lord Kilgobbin ' — which 
followed each other in almost uninterrupted succession 
through the magazine from 1867 to 1872 ; of Charles 
Beade's 'Put yourself in his Place,' which was com- 
menced in 1869 ; and of George Meredith's ' Adventures 
of Harry Bichmond,' which began in 1870. 

Most of these writers were the publisher's personal 
friends. Although Beade's boisterous personality did not 
altogether attract Smith in private Ufe, he was fully alive 
to his transparent sincerity. Apart from the magazine, he 
transacted much publishing business with Wilkie Collins 
and with Miss Thackeray (Mrs. Bitchie). He published 
(separately from the magazine) all Miss Thackeray's novels. 
For a time he took over Wilkie Collins's books, issuing a 
collective edition of them between 1865 and 1870. But 
this connection was not lasting. Smith refused in the 
latter year to accede to Collins's request to publish a new 
work of his in sixpenny parts, and at the close of 1874 
Collins transferred all his publications (save those of 



38 MEMOIB OF GBOBOE SMITH 

which tbd copyright hftd been a43quired by Smithi Blder, in 
Co.) to the firm of Chatto & Windus. Smith was not 
whoUy unversed in the methods of publication which 
Collins had invited him to pursue. He had in 1866 pur- 
chased the manuscript of TroUope's * Last Chronicles of 
Barset ' for 3,000Z., and had issued it by way of experi- 
ment in sixpenny parts. The result did not encourage a 
repetition of the plan. 

One of the pleasantest features of the early history of 
the ' Comhill ' was the monthly dinner which Smith gave 
the contributors for the first year at his house in Gloucester 
Square. Thackeray was usually th^ chief guest, and he 
and Smith spared no pains to give the meetings every con- 
vivial advantage. On one occasion Trollope thoughtlessly 
described the entertainment to Edmund Yates, who was 
at feud with Thackeray, and Yatfes wrote for a New York 
paper an ill-natured description of Smith in his character 
of host, which was quoted in the * Saturday Beview.' 
Thackeray made a sufficiently effective retaliation in a 
* Boundabout Paper ' entitled < On Screens in Dining- 
rooms.* The hospitality which Smith offered his * Corn- 
hill ' coadjutors and other friends took a new shape ia 1863, 
when he acquired a house at Hampstead called Oak Hill 
Lodge. For some ten years he resided there during the 
smnmer, and spent the winter at Brighton, travelling to 
and from London each day. Partly on Thackeray's 
suggestion, at the beginning of each summer from 1863 
onwards, there was issued by Mr. and Mrs. George Smith 
a general invitation to their friends to dine at Hampstead 
on any Friday they chose, without giving notice, ^his 
mode of entertainment proved thoroughly successful. 
The number of guests varied greatly : once they reached 
as many as forty. Thackeray, Millais, and Leech were 
among the earliest arrivals; afterwards Trollqpe rarely 
failed, and Wilkie Collins was of t^i present. Turg^)^, 
the Bussian novelist, was a guest on one oecafiion. 



MEMOIB OF GEOBOE SMITH 89 

Subsequently Du Manlier, a regular attendant, drew an 
amusing menu-card, in which Mrs. Smith was represented 
driving a reindeer in a sleigh whi^h was laden with pro- 
visions in a packingKsase. Few authors or artists who 
gained reputation in the seventh decade of the nineteenth 
century failed to enjoy Smith's genial hospitality at 
Hampstead on one or other Friday during that period* 
Under the auspices of his numerous literary friends, he 
was admitted to two well-known dubs during the first 
half of the same decade. In 1861 he joined the Beform 
Club, for which Sir Arthur Buller, a friend of Thackeray, 
proposed him, and Thackeray himself seconded him. In 
1865 he was elected to the Garrick Club on the nomina- 
tion of Anthony Trollope and WiUde Collins, supported 
by Charles Beade, Tom Taylor, (Sir) Theodore Martin, 
flnd many others. He also became a member of the 
Cosmopolitan Club. 



The general business of Smith, Elder, &, Co. through 
the sixties was extremely prosperous. In 1861 an 
additional office was taken in the West End of London at 
45 Fall Mall, nearly opposite Marlborough House. The 
shock of the Mutiny was ended, the Indian trade was 
making enormous strides. Smith, Elder, & Co. had 
supplied some of the scientific plant for the construction 
of the Granges canal, and in 1860 they celebrated the 
accomplishment of the great task by bringing out a 
formidable quarto. Sir Proby Thomas Cautley's ' Beport 
of the Construction of the Ganges Canal, with an Atlas 
of Flans." The publishing affairs of the concern were mean- 
while entirely satisfactory. The success of the ' Comhill ' 
had given them a new spur. It had attracted to the firm's 
banner not merely almost every author of repute, but 
almost every artist of rising fame. Not the least interest- 
ing publication to which the magazine gave rise was the 



40 MBMOIB OF GEOBGE SMITH 

volmue called ' The Comhill Gallery : 100 Engravings/ 
which appeared in 1864. Portions of it were reissued in 
1866 in three volmnes, containing respectively engravings 
after drawings made for the 'Comhill' hy Leighton, 
Walker, and Millais. Bnskin's pen was still prolific and 
popular, and the many copyrights that had been recently 
acquired proved valuable. 

With characteristic energy Smith now set foot in a 
new field of congenial activity, where he thought to turn 
to enhanced advantage the special position and oppor- 
tunities that he commanded in the world of letters. The 
firm already owned two weekly newspapers of somewhat 
special character — ^the * Homeward Mail ' and ' Overland 
Mail' — ^and Smith had been told that he could acquire 
without difficulty a third periodical, * The Queen.' But 
it was his ambition, if he added to the firm's newspaper 
property at all, to inaugurate a daily journal of an original 
type. The leading papers paid small attention to litera- 
ture and art, and often presented the news of the day 
heavily and unintelligently. There was also a widespread 
suspicion that musical and theatrical notices, and such 
few reviews of books as were admitted to the daily press, 
were not always disinterested. It was views like these, 
which Smith held strongly, that had prompted in 1854 
Thackeray's scheme of a daily sheet of frank and just 
criticism to be entitled 'Fair Play.' That scheme had 
been partly responsible for Thackeray's ' Boundabout 
Papers ' in the ' Cornhill Magazine,' but they necessarily 
only touched its fringe. Thackeray's original proposal 
was recalled to Smith's mind in 1863 by a cognate 
suggestion then made to him by Mr. Frederick Green- 
wood. Mr. Greenwood thought to start a new journal 
that should reproduce the form and spirit of Canning's 
' Anti- Jacobin.' After much discussion the plan of a new 
evening newspaper was finally settled by Smith and Mr, 
Greenwood. Men of literary ability and unquestioned 



MEMOIR OF GEORGE SMEPH 41 

independence were to be enlisted in its service. News 
was to be reported in plain English, but the greater part 
of the paper was to be devoted to original articles on 
' public affairs, literature, the arts, and all the influences 
which strengthen or dissipate society.' The aim was to 
bring into daily journalism as much sound thought, 
knowledge, and style as were possible to its conditions, 
and to counteract corrupting influences. No books 
published by Smith, Elder, & Co. were to be reviewed. 
The advertisement department was to be kept free from 
abuses. Quack medicine vendors and money-lenders were 
to be excluded. 

Smith himself christened the projected paper < The 
Pall Mall Gazette,' in allusion to the journal that Thack- 
eray invented for the benefit of Arthur Pendennis. To 
Mr. Greenwood's surprise Smith appointed him editor. 
King, Smith's partner, agreed that the firm should under- 
take the pecuniary responsibilities. A warehouse at the 
river end of Salisbury Street, Strand, on the naked fore- 
shore of the Thames, was acquired to serve as a printing- 
office, and a small dwelling-house some doors nearer the 
Strand in the same street was rented for editorial and 
publishing purposes. Late in 1864 a copy of the paper 
was written and printed by way of testing the general 
machinery. Although independence in all things had 
been adopted as the paper's watchword, King, who was 
a staunch Conservative, was dissatisfied with the political 
tone of the first number, which in his opinion inclined to 
Liberalism. He smnmarily vetoed the firm's association 
with the enterprise. Smith had gone too far to withdraw, 
and promptly accepted the sole ownership. 

The first number of the paper was issued from Salis- 
bury Street on February 7, 1865, the day of the opening 
of parliament. It was in form a large quarto, consisting 
of eight pages, and the price was twopence. The leading 
article by the editor dealt sympathetically with 'the 



42 BCEMOIB OF GSOBGB SMITH 

Qmeen's seclusion/ The only signed article was a long 
letter by Anthony TroUope on the American civil war-r-a 
strong appeal on behalf of the North. The unsigned 
articles included an instahnent of ' Friends in Council/ 
by Sir Arthur Helps ; an article entitled ' Ladies at Law/ 
by John Ormsby ; and the first of a series of ' Letters 
from Sir Pitt Crawley, Bart., to his nephew on his entering 
Parliament/ by ' Pitt Crawley ' the pseudonym of Sir 
Beginald Palgrave. There were three of the * occasional 
notes ' which were to form a special feature of the paper. 
One page — the last — ^was filled with advertisements. It 
was not a strong number. The public proved indifferent, 
and only four thousand copies were sold. 

Smith found no difficulty in collecting round him a 
brilliant band of professional vmters and men in public 
life who were ready to place their pens at the disposal of 
the 'Pall Mall Gazette.' Many of them had already 
contributed to the ' ComhilL' The second number 
afforded conspicuous proof of the success veith which he 
and Mr. Greenwood had recruited their staff. In that 
number Fitzjames Stephen, who had long been a regular 
contributor to the ' Comhill/ began a series of leading 
articles and other contributions which for five years 
proved of the first importance to the character of the 
paper. Until 1869 Fitzjames Stephen vnrote far more 
than half the leading articles ; in 1868 he wrote as many 
as two-thirds. When he went to India in 1869 his place 
as leader writer was to some extent filled by Sir Henry 
Maine ; but during his voyage home from India in 1872- 
1873 Fitzjames Stephen wrote, for serial issue in the 
' Pall Mall/ noiasterly articles called ' Liberty, Equality, 
and Fraternity,' which Smith afterwards published in a 
volume. 

When the ' Pall Mall Gazette ' was in its inception, 
Fitzjames Stephen moreover introduced Smith to his 
brother, Mr. Leslie Stephen, vrith a view to his writing in 



MBMOIB OF OBOBGB BMITH 43 

thi9 paper. Like Fitzjames's first contribution, Mr. Leslie 
Stephen's first contribution appeared in the second number, 
and it marked the commencement of Mr. Leslie Stephen's 
long relationship with Smith and his firm, which was 
strengthened by Mr. Stephen's marriage in 1867 to 
Thackeray's younger daughter (she died in 1875), and 
was always warmly appreciated by Smith. George Henry 
Lewes's versatility was once again at Smith's command, 
and a salary for general assistance of 3002. was paid him 
in the first year. Before the ^id of the first month the 
ranks of the writers for the ^ Pall Mall * were joined by 
B. H. Hutton, Sir John Eaye, Charles Lever, John 
Addington Symonds, and, above all, by Matthew Jam^ 
Higgins. Biggins was a friend of Thackeray, and a con- 
tributor to the * Gomhill ; ' his terse outspoken letters to 
the * Times ' bearing the signature of ' Jacob Omnium ' 
were, at the time of their appearance, widely appreciated. 
He was long an admirable compiler of occasional notes 
for the ' Pall Mall,' and led controversies there with great 
adroitness. He was almost as strong a pillar of the journal's 
sturdy independence in its esurly life as Fitzjames Stephen 
himself. Twice in March 1865, once in April, and once 
in May, George Eliot contributed attractive articles on 
social subjects.^ Smith, who had persuaded TroUope 
to lend a hand, sent him to Exeter Hall to report his im- 
pressions of the May meetings ; but the fulfilment of the 
commission taxed TroUope's patience beyond endurance, 
and the proposal only resulted in a single paper called 
' A Zulu in search of a Beligion/ Much help was regu- 
larly given by Lord and Lady Strangford, both of whom 
Smith found charming companions Socially. Among 
occasional contributors were Mr. Goschen, (Sir). Henry 
Drummond Wolflf, Tom Hughes, Lord Houghton, Mr. 

* George Eliot's articles were : * A Word for the Germans ' (March 7), 
* Servants* Logic' (March 17), 'Little Falsehoods' (April 3), < Modem 
Housekeeping ' (May 13). 



44 MEMOIB OF GEOBOB SMITH 

John Morley, and Charles Beade. Thackeray's {riend^ 
James Hannay, was summoned from Edinburgh to assist 
in the office. 

But, despite so stalwart a phalanx of powerful writers, 
the public was slow to recognise the paper's merits. The 
strict anonymity which the writers preserved did not 
give their contributions the benefit of their general repu- 
tation, and the excellence of the writing largely escaped 
recognition. In April 1865 the sales hardly averaged 613 
a day, while the amount received for advertisements was 
often only dl. Smith's interest in the venture was intense. 
In every department of the paper he expended his personal 
energy. For the first two years he kept ynth his own 
hand ' the contributors' ledger ' and ' the register of con- 
tributors,' and one day every week he devoted many hours 
at home to posting up these books and writing out and 
despatching the contributors' cheques. From the first he 
taxed his ingenuity for methods whereby to set the paper 
on a stable footing. Since the public were slow to 
appreciate the ' Pall Mall ' of an afternoon, he, for three 
weeks in the second month of its existence, supplied a 
morning edition. But buyers and advertisers proved 
almost shyer of a morning than of an evening, and the 
morning issue was promptly suspended. Smith's spirits 
often drooped in the face of the obduracy of the public, 
and he contemplated abandoning the enterprise. His 
sanguine temperament never prevented him from frankly 
acknowledging defeat when cool judgment could set no 
other interpretation on the position of aflBurs. Happily 
in the course of 1866 the tide showed signs of turning. 
In the spring of that year Mr. Greenwood requested his 
brother to contribute three papers called ' A Night in a 
Casual Ward : by an Amateur Casual.' General interest 
was roused, and the circulation of the paper slowly rose. 
Soon afterwards an exposure of a medical quack, Dr. 
Hunter, who was advertising a cure for consumption,, led 



MBMOIE OF GBOBGE SMITH 45 

to an action for libel against the publisher. Smith, who 
thoroughly enjoyed the excitement of the stlruggle, justified 
the comment, and adduced in its support the testimony of 
many distinguished members of the medical profession. 
The jury gave the plaintiff one farthing by way of 
damages. The case attracted wide attention, and leading 
doctors and others showed their opinon of Smith's conduct 
by presenting him after the trial with a silver vase and 
salver in recognition, they declared, of his courageous de- 
fence of the right of honest criticism. A year later the 
victory was won, and a profitable period in the fortunes of 
the * Pall Mall Gazette ' set in. In 1867 the construction 
of the Thames Embankment rendered necessary the de- 
molition of the old printing-office, and more convenient 
premises were found in Northumberland Street, Strand. 
On April 29, 1868, Smith celebrated the arrival of the 
favouring breeze by a memorable dinner to contributors 
at Greenwich. The number of pages of the paper was 
increased to sixteen, and for a short time in 1869 the 
price was reduced to a penny, but it was soon raised to 
the original twopence. In 1870 the ' Pall Mall Gazette ' 
was the first to announce in this country the issue of the 
battle of Sedan and Napoleon Ill's surrender. 

The less adventurous publishing work which Smith 
and his partner were conducting at Comhill at this time 
benefited by the growth of Smith's drcle of friends at the 
office of his newspaper. Sir Arthur Helps, who was 
writing occadonally for the 'Pall Mall Gazette,' was 
Clerk of the Council and in confidential relations with 
Queen Victoria. Smith published a new series of his 
'Friends in Council' in 1869. At Helps's suggestion 
Smith, Elder, & Co. were invited in 1867 to print two 
volumes in which Queen Victoria was deeply interested. 
Very early in the year there was delivered to Smith the 
manuscript of the Queen's ' Leaves from the Journal of 
our Life in the Highlands, 1848-1861.' It was originally 



46 MtlMOIB OF GBOBQB SMTilA 

intended to print only a few copieer for circulation amoilg 
the Queen's friends. Smith was enjoined to take every 
precaution for secrecy in the pre{)aration of the book. 
The manlier of the firm's printing-office in Little Green 
Arbour Court set up the type with a single assistant in a 
room which was kept under lock and key^ and was always 
occupied by one or other of them while the work was in 
progress. The Queen expressed her satisfaction at the 
way in which the secret was kept. After forty copies 
had been printed and bound for her private use, she was 
persuaded to permit an edition to be prepared for the 
public. This appeared in December 1867. It was in great 
request, and reprints were numerous. Meanwhile, at 
Helps's suggestion, Smith prepared fot publication under 
very similar conditions General Grey's ' Eatly Tenors of 
the Prince Colisort,' which was written under the Queeii's 
supervision. A first edition of five thousand copies 
appeared in Atigust 1867. There naturally followed the 
conmiission to undertake the issue of the later ' Life of 
the Prince Consort,' which Sir Theodore Martin, on 
Helps's recommendation, took up after General Grey's 
death. Smith was a lifelong admirer of Sir Theodore 
Martin's wife, Helen Faucit, the distinguished actress, 
whose portrait he had published in his second publication * 
(of 1844) , Mrs. Wilson's * Our Actresses.' He already knew 
Theodore Martin, and the engagement to publish his bio- 
graphy of Prince Albert, which came out in five volumes 
between 1874 and 1880, rendered the relations with the 
Martins very close. To Sit Theodore, Smith was until his 
death warmly attached. Li 1884 Smith brought out a 
second instalment of the Queen's jotimal, * More Leaves 
from the Journal of a Life in the Highlands, 1862-1882,' 
which, like its forerunner, enjoyed wide popularity. 



MEMOIB OF OEOBOE SMITH 47 

VI 

In 1868 a new act in the well-filled dxatna of Smith's 
bttsineBs career opened. He determined in that year 
to retire from the foreign agency and banking work of the 
firm, and to identify himself henceforth solely with the 
publishing branch. Arrangements were made whereby 
his partner, King, took over the agency and banking 
business, which he carried on nnder the style of ^ Henry 
S. King & Co.' at the old premises in Ck>mhill and at the 
more recently acquired offices in Pall Mall, while Smith 
opened, nnder the old style of ' Smith, Elder, & Co.,' new 
premises, to which the publishing branch was transferred, 
to be henceforth under his sole control. He chose for 
Smith, Elder, & Co.'s new home a private residence, 
15 Waterloo Place, then in the occupation of a partner in 
the banking firm of Herries, Farquhar, & Co. It was not 
the most convenient building that could be found for his 
purpose, and was only to be acquired at a high cost. But 
he had somewhat fantastically set his heart upon it, and 
he adapted it to his needs as satisfactorily as he could. 
In January 1869 he with many members of the Comhill 
staff permanently removed to Smith, Elder, & Co.'s new 
abode. 

The increase of leisure and the diminution of work 
which the change brought with it had a very different 
effect on Smith's health from what was anticipated. 
The sudden relaxation affected his constitution disastrously, 
and for the greater part of the next year and a half he 
was seriously incapacitated by illness. Lcmg absences in 
Scotland and on the continent became necessary, and it 
W1M not till 1870 was well advanced that his vigour was 
resfaired. He oharactaristicaUy celebrated the return of 
health by inviting the children of his numerous friends to 
witness with him and his famiily the Covent Garden 
piantomime at Christmas 1870-71. The party exceeded 



48 MEMOIB OF OEOBGE SMITH 

ninety in number, and he engaged for his gnestSi after 
mnch negotiation, the whole of the first row of the dress 
circle. Millais's children fiUed the central places. 

In 1870 Smith's energy revived in its pristine 
abundance, and, finding inadequate scope in his publish- 
ing business, it sought additional outlets elsewhere. 
Early in the year he resolved to make a supreme effort to 
produce a morning paper. A morning edition of the 

< Pall Mall Gtazette * was devised anew on a grand scale. 
In form it followed the lines of the 'Times.' Smith 
threw himself into the project with exceptional ardour. 
He spent every night at the office supervising every detail 
of the paper's production. But the endeavour failed, and, 
after four months of heavy toil and large expenditure, the 
enterprise was abandoned. Meanwhile the independent 
evening issue of the ' Pall Mall ' continued to make 
satisfactory progress. But the discouraging experience 
of the morning paper did not daunt his determination 
to obtain occupation and investments for capital sup- 
plemental to that with which his publishing business 
provided him. Later in 1870 he went into partnership 
with Mr. Arthur Bilbrough, as a shipowner and under- 
writer, at 36 Fenchurch Street. The firm was known as 
Smith, Bilbrough, & Co. Smith joined Lloyd's in 1871, 
but underwriting did not appeal much to him, and he 
soon gave it up. On the other hand, the width of his 
interest and intelligence rendered the position of a ship- 
owner wholly congenial. His operations in that capacity 
were vigorously pursued, and were attended by success. 
The firm acquired commanding interests in thirteen or 
fourteen saiUng vessels of large tonnage, and they built in 
1874 on new principles, which were afterwards imitated, 
a cargo boat of great dimensions, which Smith christened 
'Old Kensington,' after Miss Thackeray's well-known 
noveL The book had just passed serially through the 

< Comhill.' Sailors who were not aware of the source of 



MEMOIE OF GEOEGE SMITH 49 

the name raised a superstitious objection to the epithet 
* Old/ but Smith, although sympathetic, would not give 
way, and cherished a personal pride in the vessel. When 
in 1879 he resigned his partnership in Smith, Bilbrough, 
& Co., he still retained his share in the ' Old Kensington.' 
Until 1879, when he withdrew from the shipping 
business, he spent the early part of each morning at its 
office in Fenchurch Street and the rest of the working 
day at Waterloo Place, where, despite his numerous other 
interests, he spared no pains to develop his publishing 
connection. His settlement in Waterloo Place almost 
synchronised with the opening of his cordial relations 
with Bobert Browning. Smith had met Browning 
casually in early life, and Browning's friend Chorley had 
asked Smith to take over the poet's publications from his 
original publisher, Moxon ; but, at the moment, the 
financial position of Smith, Elder, & Co. did not justify 
him in accepting the proposal. In 1868 Browning him- 
self asked him to undertake a collective issue of his 
'Poetical Works,' and he produced an edition in six 
volumes. Later in the same year Browning placed in 
Smith's hands the manuscript of 'The Bing and the 
Book.' He paid the poet 1,2501. for the right of publica- 
tion during five years. The great work appeared in four 
monthly volumes, which were issued respectively in 
November and December 1868, and January and February 
1869. Of the first two volumes, the edition consisted of 
three thousand copies each ; but the sale was not rapid, 
and of the last two volumes only two thousand were 
printed. Browning presented Mrs. Smith with the manu- 
script. Thenceforth Smith was, for the rest of Browning's 
life, his only publisher, and he also took over the works 
of Mrs. Browning from Chapman & Hall. The two 
men were soon on very intimate terms. In 1871 he 
accepted Browning's poem of ' Herv^ Eiel ' for the 
' Comhill Magazine.' Browning had asked him to buy 

£ 



50 MEMOIR OP GBOEGE SMITH 

it BO that he might forward a subscription to the fund for 
the relief of the people of Paris after the siege. Smith 
sent the poet 1002. by return of post. Fifteen separate 
volumes of new verse by Browning appeared with Smith, 
Elder, & Go.'s imprint between 1871 and the date of the 
poet's death late in 1889. In 1888, too, Smith began a 
new collected edition which extended to seventeen volumes, 
and yielded handsome gains (in 1896 he brought out a 
cheaper complete collection in two volumes). He thus 
had the satisfaction of presiding over the fortunes of 
Browning's works when, for the first time in his long life, 
they brought their author substantial profit. Though 
Browning, like many other eminent EngUsh poets, was a 
man of affairs, he left his publishing concerns entirely in 
Smith's hands. No cloud ever darkened their private or 
professional intercourse. The poet's last letter to his 
publisher, dated from Asolo, September 27, 1889, contained 
the words 'and now to our immediate business [the 
proofs of the volume * Asolando ' were going through the 
press at the moment], which is only to keep thanking 
you for your constant goodness, present and future.** 
Almost the last words of Browning on his deathbed were 
to bid his son seek George Smith's advice whenever he had 
need of good counsel. Smith superintended the arrange- 
ments for Browning's funeral in Westminster Abbey on 
December 31, 1889, and was justly accorded a place 
among the pall-bearers. 

While the association with Browning was growing 
close Smith reluctantly parted company with another 
great author whose works he had published continuously 
from the start of each in life. A rift in the intimacy 
between Buskin and Smith had begun when the issue of 
* Unto this Last ' in the ' Comhill ' was broken off in 1861, 
and the death of Buskin's father in 1864 severed a strong 
link in the chain that originally united them. But more 

* Mrs. Orr's Life of Robert BraimiAng, p. 417. 



MEMOIR OF GEORGE SMITH 51 

than ten years passed before the alienation became com-^ 
plete. For no author did the firm publish a greater 
number of separate volumes. During the forties they pub- 
lished three volumes by Buskin ; during the fifties no less 
than twenty-six ; during, the sixties as many as eight, in- 
cluding * The Crown of Wild Olive,' ' Sesame and Lilies/ 
and * Queen of the Air.' In the early seventies Buskin's 
pen was especially active. In 1871 he entrusted Smith 
with the first number of ' Fors Clavigera.' In 1872 the 
firm brought out four new works: *The Eagle's Nest,' 
* Munera Pulveris,' * Aratra Pentelici,' and * Micha.el 
Angelo and Tintoret.' But by that date Buskin had 
matured views about the distribution of books which were 
out of harmony with existing practice. He wished his 
volumes to be sold to booksellers at the advertised price 
without discount and to leave it to them to make what 
profits they chose in disposing of the books to their 
customers. Smith was not averse to making the experiment 
which Buskin desired, but the booksellers did not welcome 
the new plan of sale, and the circulation of Buskin's books 
declined. Furtlter diflBculties followed in regard to re- 
prints of his early masterpieces, ' Modem Painters ' and 
the ' Stones of Venice.' Many of the plates were worn 
out, and Buskin hesitated to permit them to be replaced 
or retouched now that their original engraver, Thomas 
Lupton, was dead. He desired to limit very strictly the 
number of copies in the new editions ; he announced that 
the time had come for issuing a final edition of his early 
works, and pledged himself to suffer no reprint hereafter. 
These conditions also failed to harmonise with the 
habitual methods of the publishing business. A breach 
proved inevitable, and finally Buskin made other arrange- 
ments for the production and publication of his writings. 
In 1871 he employed Mr. George Allen to aid him person- 
ally in preparing and distributing them, and during the 

course of the next six years gradually transferred to Mr. 

b2 



52 MEMOIB OF GEOBGE SMITH 

Allen all the work that Smith, Elder, & Co. had previously 
done for Mm. On September 5, 1878, Buskin whoUy 
severed his connection with his old publisher by removing 
all his books from his charge. 

Despite many external calls pn Smith's attention, the 
normal work of the publishing firm during the seventies 
and eighties well maintained its character. The ' Corn- 
hill ' continued to prove a valuable recruiting ground for 
authors. Mr. Leslie Stephen, after he became editor of 
the magazine in 1871, welcomed to its pages the early 
work of many writers who were in due time to add to the 
stock of permanent English literature. John Addington 
Symonds wrote many essays and sketches for the maga- 
zine, and his chief writings were afterwards published by 
Smith, Elder, & Co., notably his ' History of the Benais- 
sance,' which came out in seven volumes between 1876 
and 1886. Mr. Leslie Stephen himself contributed the 
critical essays, which were collected under the title of 
* Hours in a Library ; ' and his ' History of Thought in 
the Eighteenth Century,' 1876, was among the firm's 
more important publications. Bobert Louis Stevenson 
was a frequent contributor. Miss Thackeray's ' Old 
Kensington ' and ' Miss Angel,' Blackmore's ' Erema,' 
Black's ' Three Feathers ' and ' White Wings,' Mrs. Oli- 
phant's * Cariti ' and * Within the Precincts,' Mr. W. E. 
Noms's ' Mdlle. de Mersac,' Mr. Henry James's * Wash- 
ington Square,' Mr. Thomas Hardy's 'Far from the 
Madding Crowd ' and * The Hand of Ethelberta,' and Mr. 
James Payn's ' Grape from a Thorn ' were * Comhill ' 
serials while Mr. Stephen guided the fortunes of the peri- 
odical, and the majority of them were afterwards issued 
by Smith, Elder, & Co., in book form. Another change 
in the personnel of the office became necessary on the 
retirement of Smith Williams in 1875. On the recom- 
mendation of Mr. Leslie Stephen, his intimate friend, 
James Payn the novelist, who had previously edited 



MEMOIB OF GEORGE SMITH 63 

* Chambers's Journal/ joined the staff at Waterloo Place 
as literary adviser in Williams's place. Payn's taste lay in 
the lighter form of literature. Among the most success- 
ful books that he accepted for the firm was F. Anstey's 
'Vice Versa.' In 1882, when other duties caused Mr. 
Leslie Stephen to withdraw from the 'Comhill,' Payn 
succeeded him as editor, filling, as before, the position of 
the firm's * reader * in addition. With a view to convert- 
ing the ' Gomhill ' into an illustrated repertory of popular 
fiction, Payn induced Smith to reduce its price to sixpence. 
The magazine was one of the earliest monthly periodicals 
to appear at that price. The first number of the ' Corn- 
hill ' under the new conditions was issued in July 1883 ; but 
the public failed to welcome the innovation, and a return 
to the old tradition and the old price was made when 
Payn retired from the editorial chair in 1896. Payn had 
then fallen into ill-health, and during long years of suffer- 
ing Smith, whose relations with him were always cordial, 
showed him touching kindness. While he conducted the 
magazine, he accepted for the first time serial stories from 
Dr. Conan Doyle (* The White Company,' 1891), H. S. 
Merriman, and Mr. Stanley Weyman, and thus introduced 
to the firm a new generation of popular novelists. Payn's 
connection with the firm as * reader * was only terminated 
by his death in March 1898. 

Petty recrimination was foreign to Smith's nature, 
and the extreme consideration which he paid those who 
worked with him in mutual sympathy is well illustrated by 
a story which Payn himself related under veiled names in 
his * Literary EecoUections.' In 1880 Mr. Shorthouse's 
'John Inglesant* was offered to Smith, Elder, & Co., 
and, by Payn's advice, was rejected. It was accepted by 
another firm, and obtained great success. A few years 
afterwards a gossiping paragraph appeared in % newspaper 
reflecting on the sagacity of Smith, Elder, & Co., in 
refusing the book. The true facts of the situation had 



54 MEMOIB OF GEOBGE SMITH 

entirely passed out of Payn*s mind, and he regarded the 
newspaper's statement as a malicious invention. He 
mentioned his intention of publicly denying it. Smith 
gently advised him against such a course. Payn insisted 
that the remark was damaging both to him and the firm, 
and should not be suffered to pass uncorrected. There- 
upon Smith quietly pointed out to Payn the true position 
of afiioirs, and called attention to the letter drafted by 
Payn himself, in which the firm had refused to undertake 
' John Inglesant.' Payn, in reply, expressed his admira- 
tion of Smith's magnanimity in forbearing, at the time 
that the work he had rejected was achieving a triumphant 
circulation at the hands of another firm, to complain by a 
single word of his want of foresight. Smith merely 
remarked that he was sorry to distress Payn by any 
reference to the matter, and should never have mentioned 
it had not Payn taken him unawares. 

VII 

Meanwhile new developments both vnthin and without 
the publishing business were in progress. The internal 
developments showed that there was no diminution in the 
alertness with which modes of extending the scope of the 
firm's work were entertained. A series of expensive 
Sditions de luxe was begun, and a new department of 
medical literature was opened. Between October 1878 
and September 1879 there was issued an idition de luxe 
of Thackeray's ' Works ' in twenty-four volumes, to which 
two additional volumes of hitherto uncollected writings 
were added in 1886. A similarly elaborate reissue of 
' Bomola,' with Leighton's illustrations, followed in 1880, 
and a like reprint of Fielding's ' Works ' in 1882. The last 
of these ventures proved the least successful. In 1872 
Smith inaugurated a department of medical literature by 
purchasing, at the sale of the stock of a firm of medical 
publishers, the publishing rights in Ellis's ' Demonstrations 



MBMOIB OF GEORGE SMITH 65 

of Anatomy ' and Quain and Wilson's ' Anatomical Plates.' 
These works formed a nucleus of an extended medical 
library the chief part of which Smith, Elder, <& Co. 
brought into being between 1873 and 1887. Ernest Hart 
acted as adviser on the new medical side of the business, 
and at his suggestion Smith initiated two weekly 
periodicals dealing with medical topics, which Hart 
edited. The earlier was the 'London Medical Eecord,' 
of which the first number appeared in January 1873; 
the second was the * Sanitary Eecord,' of which the first 
number began in July 1874. After some four years a 
monthly issue was substituted for the weekly issue in each 
case, and both were ultimately transferred to other hands. 
The * Medical Eecord ' won a high reputation among 
medical men through its copious reports of medical practice 
in foreign countries. The most notable contributions to 
medical literature which Smith undertook were, besides 
Ellis's * Demonstrations of Anatomy,' Holmes's * Surgery,' 
Bristowe's * Medicine,* Playf air's * Midwifery,' Marshall's 
'Anatomy for Artists,' and Klein's 'Atlas of Histology.' 
He hked the society of medical men, and while the 
medical branch of his business was forming he frequently 
entertained his medical authors at a whist party on 
Saturday nights in his rooms at Waterloo Place. 

Of several new commercial ventures outside the pub- 
lishing office with which Smith identified himself at this 
period, one was the Aylesbury Dairy Company, in the 
direction of which he was for many years associated with 
his friends Sir Henry Thompson and Tom Hughes. 
Other mercantile undertakings led to losses, which were 
faced boldly and cheerfully. It was almost by accident 
that he engaged in the enterprise which had the most 
conspicuous and auspicious bearing on his financial posi- 
tion during the last twenty years of his life. When he 
was dining with Ernest Hart early in 1872, his host called 
his attention to some natural aerated water, a specimen 



56 MEMOnt OE 6B0BGB SMITH 

of which had just been brought to this country for the 
first time from the Apollinaris spring in the valley of 
the Ahr, to the east of the Bhine, between Bonn and 
Coblenz. Smith, who was impressed by the excellence of 
the water, remarked half -laughingly that he would like to 
buy the spring. These casual words subsequently bore 
important fruit. Negotiations were opened between 
Smith and Mr. Edward Steinkopff, a German merchant in 
the City of London, whereby a private company was 
formed in 1873 for the importation of the ApoUinaris 
water into England, Hart receiving an interest in the 
profits. A storehouse was taken in the Adelphi, and 
an office was opened in Begent Street within a short 
distance of Waterloo Place. As was his custom in all 
his enterprises. Smith at the outset gave close personal 
attention to the organisation of the uew business, which 
grew steadily from the first and ultimately reached enor-' 
mous dimensions. The Apollinaris water sold largely 
not only in England, but in America, Europe, India, and 
in the British colonies. The unexpected success of the 
venture very sensibly augmented Smith's resources. The 
money he had invested in it amounted to a very few 
thousand pounds, and this small sum jdelded for more 
than twenty years an increasingly large income which 
altogether surpassed the returns from his other enter- 
prises. In 1897 the business was profitably disposed of 
to a public company. 

In 1880 Smith lightened his responsibilities in one 
direction by handing over the * Pall Mall Gazette * to Mr. 
Henry Yates Thompson, who had lately married his eldest 
daughter. Thenceforth the paper was wholly controlled 
by others. During the late seventies the pecuniary pro- 
mise of the journal had not been sustained. It continued, 
however, to be characterised by good literary style, and to 
attract much literary ability, and it still justified its 
original aims of raising the literary standard of journalism 



MEMOIB OF 6E0BGB SMITH 67 

and of obfiierving a severer code of journalistic morality 
than had before been generally accepted. In 1870 Charles 
Beade contributed characteristically polemical sketches 
on social topics which were remxmerated at an unusually 
high rate. In 1871 Matthew Arnold contributed his 
brilliantly sarcastic series of articles called ' Friendship's 
Garland.' Richard Jefferies's ' The Gamekeeper at Home ' 
and others of the same writer's rural sketches appeared 
serially from 1876 onwards. Almost all JefiEeries's books 
were published by Smith. At the same time other writers 
on the paper gave him several opportunities of gratifying 
his taste for fighting actions for libel. Dion Boucicault 
in 1870, Hepworth Dixon in 1872, and Mr. W. S. Gilbert 
in 1873, all crossed swords with him in the law courts on 
account of what they deemed damaging reflections made 
upon them in the 'Pall Mall Gazette;' but in each 
instance the practical victory lay with Smith, and he was 
much exhilarated by the encounters. At length, during 
the crisis in Eastern Europe of 1876 and the following 
years, the political tone of the paper became, under Mr. 
Greenwood's guidance, unflinchingly Conservative. Smith, 
although no strong partisan in politics, always inclined to 
Liberalism ; and his sympathies with his paper in its exist- 
ing condition waned, so that he parted from it without 
much searching of heart. 

To the end of his life Smith continued to give the 
freest play to his instinct of hospitality. After 1872, 
when he gave up his houses both at Hampstead and at 
Brighton, he settled in South Kensington, where he 
rented various residences from time to time up to 1891. 
In that year he purchased the Duke of Somerset's man- 
sion in Park Lane, which was his final London home. 
From 1884 to 1897 he also had a residence near Wey- 
bridge. Qf late years he usually spent the spring in the 
Biviera, and on more than one occasion visited a German 
watering-place in the sunmier. Wherever he lived he 



68 MEMOIB OF GE0B6E SMITH 

welcomed no guests more frequently or with greater 
warmth than the authors and artists with whom he was 
professionally associated. His fund of entertaining 
reminiscence was unfailing, and his genial talk abounded 
in kindly reference to old friends and acquaintances. 
The regard in which he was held by those with whom he 
worked has been often indicated in the course of this 
memoir. It was conspicuously illustrated by the dying 
words of his lifelong friend Millais, who, when the power 
of speech had left him during his last illness in 1896, 
wrote on a slate the words, ' I should like to see Greorge 
Smith, the kindest man and the best gentleman I have 
had to deal with.' The constancy which characterised 
his intimacies is well seen, too, in his relations with 
Mrs. Bryan Waller Procter. Thackeray had introduced 
him in comparatively early days to Procter and his family, 
and the daughter Adelaide, the well-known poetess, had 
excited his youthful admiration. When Procter was dis- 
abled by paralysis, and more especially after his death in 
1874, Smith became Mrs. Procter's most valued friend 
and counsellor. He paid her a weekly visit, and tho- 
roughly enjoyed her shrewd and pungent wit. She proved 
her confidence in him and her appreciation of the kind- 
ness he invariably showed her by presenting him with a 
volume of autograph letters that Thackeray had addressed 
to her and her husband, and finally she made him executor 
of her will. She died in 1888. To the last Smith's photo- 
graph always stood on her writing-table along with those 
of Eobert Browning, James Eussell Lowell, and Mr. 
Henry James, her three other closest allies. Another 
friend to whom Smith gave many proofs of attachment 
was Tom Hughes. Hughes was not one of Smith's 
authors. He had identified himself in early years too 
closely with the firm of Macmillan & Co. to connect him- 
self with any other publisher. But he wrote occasionally 
for the * Pall Mall Gazette ; ' he knew and liked Smith 



MEMOIB OF GEOBGE SMITH 59 

personally, and sought his counsel when the failure of his 
settlement at Eugby, Tennessee, was causing him great 

anxiety* 

In 1878 Smith's mother died at the advanced age of 
eighty-one, having lived to see her son achieve fame and 
fortune. His eldest sister died two years later, and his 
only surviving sister, the youngest of the family, was left 
alone. Mainly in this sister's interest. Smith entered on a 
venture of ft kind different from any he had yet essayed. 
He had made the acquaintance of Canon Bamett, vicar 
of St Jude's, who was persuading men of wealth to help 
in solving the housing question in the east end of London 
by purchasing some of the many barely habitable tene- 
ments that defaced the slums, by demolishing them, and 
by erecting on their sites blocks of model dwellings. It 
was one of the principles of Canon Bamett's treatment of 
the housing difficulty that the services of ladies should be 
enlisted as rent-collectors and managers of house property 
in poor districts. Under the advice of Canon Bamett, 
Smith, in 1880, raised a block of dwellings of a new and 
admirably sanitary type in George Yard in the very heart 
of Whitechapel. The block accommodated forty families, 
and the management was entrusted to his sister, who 
remained directress until her marriage, and was then 
succeeded by another lady. In carrying out this philan- 
thropic scheme Smith proposed to work on business lines. 
He hoped to show in practice that capital might thus be 
invested at a fair profit, and thereby to induce others to 
follow his example. But the outlay somewhat exceeded 
the estimates, and, though a profit was returned, it was 
smaller than was anticipated. Smith, his wife, and his 
daughters took a warm interest in their tenants, whom 
for several winters they entertained at Toynbee Hall, and 
through many- summers at their house at Weybridge. 
Many amusing stories used Smith to report of his conver- 
sation with his humble guests on these occasions. 



60 MEMOIB OF 6E0BGE SMITH 

vin 

In 1882 Smith resolved to embark on a new and final 
enterprise, which proved a fitting crown to his spirited 
career. In that year there first took shape in his mind 
the scheme of the 'Dictionary of National Biography,' 
with which his name mast in future ages be chiefly iden- 
tified. By his personal efforts, by his commercial instinct, 
by his masculine strength of mind and will, by his quick- 
ness of perception and by his industry, he had before 
1882 built up a great fortune. But at no point of his life 
had it been congenial to his nature to restrict his activities 
solely to the accumulation of wealth. Now, in 1882, he 
set his mind upon making a munificent contribution to the 
literature of his country in the character not so much of a 
publisher seeking profitable investment for capital as of 
an enlightened man of wealth who desired at the close of 
his days to manifest his wish to serve his fellow country- 
men and to merit their gratitude. On one or two public 
occasions he defined the motives that led him to the 
undertaking. At first he had contemplated producing a 
cyclopaedia of universal biography; but his friend Mr. 
Leslie Stephen, whom he took into his confidence, deemed 
the more limited form which the scheme assumed to be 
alone pra>cticable. Smith was attracted by the notion of 
producing a book which would supply an acknowledged 
want in the literature of the country, and would compete 
with, or even surpass, works of a similar character which 
were being produced abroad. In foreign countries like 
encyclopsBdic work had been executed by means of Govern- 
ment subvention or under the auspices of State-aided 
literary academies. Smith's independence of temper was 
always strong, and he was inspirited by the knowledge 
that he was in a position to pursue single-handed an aim 
in behalf of which G-ovemment organisation had elsewhere 
been enlisted. It would be difficult in the history of 



MEMOIB 0¥ GBOEGE SMITH 61 

publishing to match the magnanimity of a publisher who 
made up his mind to produce that kind of book for which 
he had a personal liking, to involve himself in vast 
expense, for the sake of an idea, in what he held to be the 
public interest, without heeding considerations of profit or 
loss. It was in the autumn of 1882 that, after long 
consultation with Mr. Leslie Stephen, its first editor, the 
' Dictionary x)f National Biography ' was begun. Mr. 
Stephen resigned the editorship of the * Comhill ' in order 
to devote himself exclusively to the new enterprise. The 
story of the progress of the publication has already been 
narrated in the ' Statistical Account,' prefixed to the sixty- 
third and last volume of the work, which appeared in July 
1900. Here it need only be said that the literary result 
did not disappoint Smith's expectations. As each quarterly 
volume came with unbroken punctuality from the press he 
perused it with an ever-growing admiration, and was 
unsparing in his commendation and encouragement of 
those who were engaged on the literary side of its produc- 
tion. In every detail of the work's general management 
he took keen interest and played an active part in it from 
first to last. 

While the * Dictionary ' was in progress many gratify- 
ing proofs were given Smith on the part of the public and 
of the contributors, with whom his relations were uni- 
formly cordial, of their appreciation of his patriotic 
endeavour. After he had indulged his characteristically 
hospitable instincts by entertaining them at his house in 
Park Lane in 1892, they invited him to be their guest in 
1894 at the Westminster Palace Hotel. Smith, in return- 
ing thanks, expressed doubt whether a publisher had ever 
before been entertained by a distinguished company of 
authors. In 1895 the university of Oxford conferred on 
him the honorary degree of M.A. Some two years later, 
on July 8, 1897, Smith acted as host to the whole body of 
writers and some distinguished strangers at the H6tel 



62 MEMOIB OF GEOBtiE SMITH 

M^tropole, and six days afterwards, on July 14, 1897, at a 
meeting of the second International Library Conference at 
the Council Chamber in the Guildhall, a congratulatory 
resolution was, on the motion of the late Dr. Justin 
Winsor, librarian of Harvard, unanimously voted to him 
* for carrying forward so stupendous a work.' The vote 
was carried amid a scene of stirring enthusiasm. Smith 
then said that during a busy life of more than fifty years 
no work had afforded him so much interest and satisfac- 
tion as that connected with the ^Dictionary.' In May 
1900, in view of the completion of the great undertaking. 
King Edward VII. (then Prince of Wales) honoured with 
his presence a small dinner party given to congratulate 
Smith upon the auspicious event. Finally, on June 30, 
1900, the Lord Mayor of London invited him and the 
editors to a brilliant banquet at the Mansion House, which 
was attended by men of the highest distinction in litera- 
ture and public life. Mr. John Morley, in proposing the 
chief toast, remarked that it was impossible to say too 
much of the public spirit, the munificence, and the clear 
and persistent way in which Smith had carried out the 
great enterprise. He had not merely inspired a famous 
Uterary achievement, but had done an act of good citizen- 
ship of no ordinary quality or magnitude. 

After 1890 Smith's -active direction of affairs at 
Waterloo Place, except in regard to the 'Dictionary of 
National Biography,' somewhat diminished. From 1881 
to 1890 his elder son, George Murray Smith, had joined 
him in the publishing business ; in 1890 his younger son, 
Alexander Murray Smith, came in ; and at the end of 1894 
Beginald John Smith, K.C., who had shortly before married 
Smith's youngest daughter, entered the firm. After 1894 
Smith left the main control of the business in the hands 
of his son, Alexander Murray Smith, and of his son-in-law, 
Eeginald John Smith, of whom the former retired from 



MEMOIR OP GEORGE SMITH 63 

active partnership early in 1899. Smith still retained 
the ' Dictionary ' as his personal property, and until his 
death his advice and the results of his experience were 
placed freely and constantly at the disposal of his partners 
His interest in the fortunes of the firm was unabated to 
the end, and he even played anew in his last days his 
former rdle of adviser in the editorial conduct of the 
*Comhill Magazine.' The latest writer of repute and 
popularity, whose association with Smith, Elder, & Co. 
was directly due to himself, was Mrs. Humphry Ward, 
the niece of his old friend Matthew Arnold. In May 
1886 she asked him to undertake the publication of her 
novel * Eobert Elsmere.' This he readily agreed to do, 
purchasing the right to issue fifteen hundred copies. It 
appeared in three volumes early in 1888. The work was 
triumphantly received, and it proved the first of a long 
succession of novels from the same pen which fully 
maintained the tradition of the publishing house in its 
relations with fiction. Smith followed with great sympathy 
Mrs. Ward's progress in popular opinion, and the cordiality 
that subsisted in her case, both privately and profession- 
ally, between author and publisher recalled the most 
agreeable experiences of earlier periods of his long career. 
He paid Mrs. Ward for her later work larger sums than 
any other novelist received from him, and in 1892, on the 
issue of * David Grieve,' which followed * Eobert Elsmere,' 
he made princely terms for her with publishers in 
America. 

In the summer of 1899, when Dr. Fitchett, the 
Australian writer, was on a visit to this country, he 
persuaded Smith to give him an opportunity of recording 
some of his many interesting reminiscences. The notes 
made by Dr. Fitchett largely deal with the early life, but 
Smith neither completed nor revised them, and they are not 
in a shape that permits of publication. Fragments of 



64 MEMOIB OF 6E0B0E SMITH 

them formed the basis of four articles which he con- 
tribnted to the < Comhill Magazine ' in 1900-1.^ 

Although in early days the doctors credited Smith 
with a dangerous weakness of the heart and he suffered 
occasional illness, he habitually enjoyed good health till 
near the end of his life. He was tall and of a well-knit 
figure, retaining to an advanced age the bodily vigour and 
activity which distinguished him in youth. He always 
attributed his robustness in mature years to the constancy 
of his devotion to his favourite exercise of riding. After 
1895 he suffered from a troublesome ailment which he 
bore with great courage and cheerfulness, but it was not 
till the beginning of 1901 that serious alarm was felt. 
An operation became necessary and was successfully 
performed on January 11, 1901, at his house in Park 
Lane. He failed, however, to recover strength; but, 
believing that his convalescence might be hastened by 
country air, he was at his own request removed in March 
to St. George's Hill, Byfleet, near Weybridge, a house 
which he had rented for a few months. After his arrival 
there he gradually sank, and he died on April 6. He was 
buried on the 11th in the churchyard at Byfleet. The 
progress of the supplemental volumes of the ' Dictionary,' 
which were then in course of preparation, was constantly 
in his mind during his last weeks of life, and the wishes 
that he expressed concerning them have been carried out. 
He bequeathed by will the 'Dictionary of National 
Biography * to his wife, who had throughout their married 
life been closely identified with all his undertakings, and 
was intimately associated with every interest of his varied 
career. 

Smith was survived by his wife and all his children. 
His elder son, George Murray Smith, married in 1885 

> The articles were * In the Early Forties,' Noyember 1900 ; * Charlotte 
BrontS/ December 1900 ; * Onr BirUi and Parentage,' January 1901 ; and 
* Lawful Pleasures,' February 1901. He contemplated other papers of the 
like kind, but did not live to undertake them. 



MBMOIB OF GEOEGB SMITH 65 

Ellen, youngest daughter of the first Lord Belper, aoid has 
issue three sons and a daughter. His younger son, Alex- 
ander Murray Smith, who was an active partner of the 
firm from 1890 to 1899, married in 1893 Emily Tenny- 
son, daughter of Dr. Bradley, Dean of Westminster. His 
eldest daughter married in 1878 Henry Yates Thompson. 
His second daughter is Miss Ethel Murray Smith. His 
youngest daughter married in 1893 Eeginald J. Smith, 
K.C., who joined the firm of Smith, Elder, and Co. at the 
end of 1894 and has been since 1899 sole active partner. 

IX 

In surveying the whole field of labour that Smith 
accomplished in his more than sixty years of adult life, 
one is impressed not merely by the amount of work that 
he achieved but by its exceptional variety. In him there 
were combined diverse ambitions and diverse abilities 
which are rarely found together in a single brain. 

On the one hand he was a practical man of business, 
independent and masterful, richly endowed with financial 
instinct, most methodical, precise, and punctual in habits 
of mind and action. By natural temperament sanguine 
and cheerful, he was keen to entertain new suggestions, 
but the bold spirit of enterprise in him was controlled by 
a native prudence. In negotiation he was resolute yet 
cautious, and, scorning the pettiness of diplomacy, he 
was always alert to challenge in open fight dishonesty or 
meanness on the part of those with whom he had to 
transact affairs. Most of his mercantile ventures proved 
brilliant successes ; very few of them went far astray. 
His triumphs caused in him natural elation, but his cool 
judgment never suffered him to delude himself long with 
false hopes, and when defeat was unmistakable he faced 
it courageously and without repining. Although he was 
impatient of stupidity or carelessness, he was never a 
harsh taskmaster. He was, indeed, scrupulously just 

F 



66 MEMOIB OF GBOBGE SMITH 

.and considerate in his dealings with those who worked 
capably and loyally for him, and, being a sonnd judge of 
men, seldom had gromxds for regretting the bestowal of 
his confidence. 

These valuable characteristics account for only a part 
of the interest attaching to Smith's career. They fail to 
explain why he should have been for half a century not 
merely one of the chief influences in the conntry^hich 
helped literature and art conspicuously to flourish, but the 
intimate friend, counsellor, and social ally of most of the 
men and women who made the lasting hterature and art of 
his time. It would not be accurate to describe him as a 
man of great imagination, or one possessed of literary or 
artistic scholarship ; but it is bare truth to assert that bis 
masculine mind and temper were coloured by an intuitive 
sympathy with the workings of the imagination in others ; 
by a gift for distinguishing almost at a glance a good 
piece of literature or art £rom a bad ; by an innate respect 
for those who pursued intellectual and imaginative ideals 
rather than mere worldly prosperity. 

No doubt his love for his labours as a publisher was 
partly due to the scope it gave to his speculative pro- 
pensities, but it was due in a far larger degree to the 
opportunities it offered him of cultivating the intimacy of 
those whose attitude to Ufe he whole-heartedly adinired. 
He realised the sensitiveness of men and women of 
genius, and there were occasions on which he found him- 
self unequal to the strain it imposed on him in his 
business dealings ; but it was his ambition, as far as 
was practicable, to conciUate it, and it was rarely that he 
failed. He was never really dependent on the profits of 
publishing, and, although he naturally engaged in it on 
strict business principles, he knew how to harmonise such 
principles with a liberal indulgence of the generous 
impulses which wholly governed his private and domestic 
life. His latest enterprise of the ' Dictionary of National 



MBMOIB OF GEOBGE SMITH 67 

Biography' was a fitting embodiment of that native 
magnanimity which was the mainstay of his character, 
and gave its varied manifestations substantial unity. 

[This memoir is partly based on the memoranda, recorded by Dr. 
Fitchett in 1899, to which reference has already been made (p. 63), and on 
the four articles respecting his early life which Smith oontribated to the 
ComhiU Magazine November 1900 to February 1901. Yalaable informa- 
tion has also been placed at the writer's disposal by Mrs. George M. Smith 
and Mrs. Yates Thompson, who have made many important suggestions. 
Numerous dates have been ascertained or confirmed by an examination of 
the account-books of Smith, Elder, <fe Co. Mention has already been 
made of Mrs. GaskelPs Life of Charlotte Bronte, Anthony Trollope*s 
Autobiography t Mr. Leslie Stephen's Life of his brother Fitzjames, 
Matthew Arnold's Letters (ed. G. W. E. Bussell), and other memoirs of 
authors in which reference is made to Smith. Mr. Leslie Stephen con- 
tributed an appreciative sketch * In Memoriam ' to the ComhiU Magazine 
for May 1901, and a memoir appeared in the Times of April 8, 1901. 
Thanks are due to Mr. G. B. Bivington, clerk of the Stationers' Company, 
for extracts from the Stationers' Company's Begisters bearing on the firm's 
early history.] 



f2 



r 



SOME PAGES OF AUTOBIOGRAPHY 



wmm 



\ 



IN THE EABLY F0BTIE8 

Reprinted from the * Ciomhill Magazine/ November 1900 

Though it has often been st^gested to me by friends 
who have been interested in my recoUections of people I 
have known that I should put on record some of the 
incidents of a long and busy life, I doubt whether I should 
have taken up my pen, had it not been for the friendly 
pressure put on me by a distinguished man of letters from . 
Australia who was recently on a visit to this country. It 
is chiefly at his instance that I have made up my mind 
to attempt a few jottings of my remembrances, beginning 
with very early days. 

There are generally but few incidents, and these often 
only of trivial importance, that rest in one's memory after 
some sixty years ; but trivial as these incidents may have 
been in my experience, they brought me into contact with 
people and events which after so long a period of time 
may have a certain interest for the present generation. 

Sixty years ago the business of Smith, Elder, & Go. 
was carried on at 65 Comhill. It consisted chiefly of an 
export trade to India and our colonies. There was also a 
small publishing business, occasionally involving a certain 
amount of enterprise. 

A recent festival in honour of the centenary of Lieu- 
tenant Waghom's birth has brought to my mind incidents 
of my boyhood relating to that pioneer of the Overland 
Boute to India, of whom I have a vivid remembrance. 



72 SOME PAGES OP AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

At that time the long route round the Cape, occupying 
three or four months, was the only means of communi- 
cation with India, and Waghom's scheme for a shorter 
route across the Isthmus of Suez and through the Bed 
Sea was eagerly welcomed by the commercial world. The 
English Government was chilly, if not indifferent, and 
private enterprise was left to demonstrate both the speed 
and the practicability of the new route. A number of 
merchants interested in the Eastern trade joined to bear 
the cost of some experimental trips by Waghorn. Letters 
to be sent to India in Waghom's charge were brought to 
us to be stamped for express to Marseilles, where they 
were received by Waghorn and carried by him to Bombay. 
From Bombay in turn a packet of letters was brought by 
Waghorn to England. 

I was eager, boy-like, to take part in this contest with 
time and space; my ambition was to ride one of the 
expresses between Paris and Marseilles, and I remember 
a fit of sulks which lasted for more than a week because 
my father refused his consent to this performance. 

Waghorn, as I have said, received in Bombay a num- 
ber of letters addressed to the various firms interested in 
the enterprise, and brought them via the Bed Sea and 
Suez to London, thus showing by how many days he 
could beat the Cape route. The cost of this trip was 
distributed over the number of letters he carried, and 
charged as postage. The postage on the early Overland 
letters under this scheme was naturally alarming in scale ; 
I can even now remember my father's face when he 
opened a letter brought by Waghorn, and containing a 
duplicate draft for 3^. or 4Z., the postage for which was 
assessed at something like 25Z. ! 

My father's firm acted as Waghom's agents. All 
letters were brought to 65 Comhill and posted thence. 
We youngsters used to think the receipt and stamping 
of these letters, for which we had an office at the back of 



IN THE EABLY FORTIES 73 

the shop, great fan ; it was like ' playing at post-office.' 
Waghom was a sailor-like man, short and broad, excitable 
in a high degree, and of tremendous energy. He. really 
did a very great thing: he opened a new and shorter 
route of intercourse between the East and the West ; but 
the greatness of his feat was never properly recognised or 
rewarded. He had an unfortunate gift for quarrelling 
with people; his energy was unqualified by tact; his 
temper was explosive. On one occasion I went into my 
little room and found its floor strewn with fragments of 
paper ; it was a copy of the * Times ' which contained an 
article which did not please Waghom, and he had 
expressed his sentiments by furiously tearing the paper 
into the tiniest fragments. More than once Waghorn 
arrived at 65 Comhill in the early morning when I was 
the only member of the staff present. On one occasion 
he arrived, travel-stained and dirty : he had just landed ; 
and without a word of greeting he shouted, ' Have you 
any one here who can run ? ' I called in a ticket-porter 
from the street : Waghom inquired if he could run. 
' Yes, sir,' said the porter, ' if I am paid for it.' Waghorn 
handed him a packet and told him to run with it to the 
Foreign Office. The ticket-porter was stout and scant of 
breath; running for him was a lost art. Waghom 
watched the man waddling down Comhill ; he burst out 
with a seafaring expletive, not to be repeated here, ran 
after the porter, seized him by the coat-tails, which he 
rent halfway up his back, grasped the packet, rolled the 
unfortunate porter into the gutter, and ran off himself 
with the despatches to the Foreign Office. I had to pick 
the astonished porter from the gutter and pay him hand- 
somely for his damaged coat and outraged feelings in 
order to save Waghom from a charge of assault. 

Something of the spirit of modem trade, of its haste 
and keenness, its eagerness to outrace not only all com- 
petitors but time itself, was already visible in the opera- 



74 SOME PAGES OF AUTOBIOGBAPHT 

tions of the firm. It seemed a great matter to them to 
get periodicals and parcels off to India np to the latest 
moment, and I can remember seeing a postchaise stand- 
ing at the door of the shop in Comhill to take parcels of 
the ' Quarterly ' or ' Edinburgh Review;* I forget which, 
off to Deal to catch a fast ship there. It must, I suppose, 
have contained some article of special interest to the 
Indian public, but it was an expensive way of sending a 
magazine, and could only ' pay ' in the sense that getting 
the Beview to India before any other agent won for the 
firm a reputation for energy and enterprise. 

I recall another instance of these same characteristics. 
The porter at the East India House, named Toole, used 
to be sent to Gravesend with the latest despatches from 
the India Office. He was a magnificent fellow, with a 
splendid red livery — who, out of office hours, was widely 
known as the best toast-master of his time ; his son, Mr. 
John Lawrence Toole, is the genial actor who has 
delighted several generations of playgoers. Some arrange- 
ment was come to with this gorgeous being, and he used 
to carry, in addition to his despatches, packages of maga- 
zines and books for Smith, Elder, & Co. 

As to my early attempts as a publisher, they began 
when I was about nineteen years of age. I had then no 
responsible position in the firm, but the business instinct 
was slowly awaking in me. I was shrewd enough to see 
that no steady policy was pursued in the publishing 
department. If a book made a success, then for a time 
almost everything that offered itself was accepted; this 
naturally produced a harvest of disasters ; then for a while 
nothing at all was published. Various efforts were made 
to improve the management of the publishing department, 
to which the members of the firm were unable to give 
much personal attention. A Mr. Folthorp, who after- 
wards had a large Library at Brighton, was engaged as 
manager, but with little success; a Mr. Beid followed 



IN THE BAELT FOBTIES 75 

him, and he also was a failure. I had often discussed the 
matter with my mother, who had a keen and businesslike 
intelligence ; I was eager to assume a responsible position 
in the business, and on the deposition of Mr. Beid, my 
mother persuaded my father, who in turn persuaded his 
partners, to put me in charge of the publishing depart- 
ment. I was to have the modest sum of 1,500Z. at my 
absolute disposal. I stipulated that I was not to be 
questioned or interfered with in any way as to its use ; 
with this sum I was to make what publishing ventures 
I pleased. Behold me then, a youth not yet twenty, 
searching the horizon for authors whose literary bant- 
lings I might introduce to an admiring and, as I fondly 
hoped, purchasing world. 

My first venture was the publication of E. H. Home's 
— * Orion' Home's — 'New Spirit of the Age' — a series 
of essays on well-known living writers. I doubt whether 
any publisher has ever been so much interested in a book 
as I was in these two volumes. It was, from the pub- 
lisher's point of view, my first-bom. I have since had 
publishing and commerical ventures involving com- 
paratively very large sums, but not one has ever given 
me such anxious care as these volumes. I read every 
line of the book, first in manuscript and then in proof ; 
I poured upon the unfortunate author all sorts of youth- 
ful criticisms and suggestions. I had sleepless nights 
over the book. At last we came to a deadlock. The 
book included an article on Colonel Perronet Thompson, 
a leading and very advanced politician of the day. 
Home's study of Thompson was enthusiastic ; his views 
were not in the least likely to commend themselves to 
the book-buying public of that time. I felt very much 
as I imagine the editor of the ' Quarterly Beview ' would 
ieel if invited to accept a eulogium, say, of Mr. John 
Bums by Mr. Eeir Hardie. I remonstrated with Home, 
who replied that Thompson was a man of sufficient 



76 SOME PAGES OP AUTOBIOGEAPHY 

distinction to find a place in the volume, and was a man 
with a future. A long correspondence followed, dread- 
fully in earnest on my side, but Home was firm. At 
length I went to Home's residence at Kentish Town to 
endeavour to settle the matter in person. I have still a 
vivid remembrance of the interview which followed, and 
had a sufficient sense of humour to appreciate its absurdity 
even in my anxious condition of mind. I argued the 
matter with great earnestness, employing all the eloquent 
phrases I had invented during my ride to Kentish Town 
on the outside of an omnibus. Home at last said, ' My 
dear young friend, you are rather excited. Let us have 
a little music' He fetched his guitar and played to me 
for half an hour ; he then asked if my views were still the 
same. He found they had resisted even the strains of 
his guitar. Then Home's good-nature came to my aid. 
He opened his bookcase, beckoned to me with the gesture 
of a tragic actor to approach. He took up the offending 
manuscript, written on brief-paper, held one comer in 
his hand, and motioned to me vnth the utmost solemnity 
to take the other comer. We then proceeded in funereal 
silence, keeping step as in a stage procession, to the fire- 
place, when Home looked me in the face with a tragic 
expression, and said, * Throw.' We threw ; the offend- 
ing manuscript dropped into the flames ; Home heaved 
a deep sigh, and I shook him warmly by the hand and 
departed much relieved. Any one who remembers the 
quaint and picturesque personaUty of the author of 
* Orion ' will be able to appreciate this scene. 

Thackeray reviewed Home's book in the 'Morning 
Chronicle,' and on the whole favourably, though he sadly 
hurt Home's feelings by in effect calling him a Cockney, 
which to Home seemed the sum of all discredit. The 
droll little man came to Comhill with the preface to a 
new edition in which he proposed to overwhelm his critics, 
including Thackeray. We adjourned to the ' Woolpack,' 



IN THE BAELT FORTIES 77 

a tavern in St. Peter's Alley, Comhill, where I generally 
had my lunch, and there in a quiet room upstairs the 
preface was discussed. I remember how vain I felt at 
having suggested an expression about ' the scorching glare 
of the Bay of Mexico, or the thunders of the Gulf of 
Florida,' which Home accepted with acclamation as a 
substitute for some tamer phrase he had used. 

Home was a kindly, clever little man, but he was an 
oddity. He published the first three editions of ' Orion ' 
at a farthing a copy ; the price of the fourth edition was, 
I believe, a shilling, and that of the fifth, half-a-crown. 
His quaintness took many turns. Among other eccentric 
opinions cherished by him was one that Shylock was a 
misunderstood character to whom justice had never been 
done. Shylock, Home contended, only asked what was 
his due. Shakespeare's conception of the character, he 
held, had never been really placed before the public, and 
he determined to remedy this ancient injustice and repair 
the wrong done to Shylock by representing him as, in his 
opinion, he ought to be represented on the stage. The 
' Merchant of Venice ' was played at a theatre in the 
Tottenham Court Boad, and Home, the only amateur in 
the company, took the part of Shylock. The house was 
filled with his friends eager to study the new Shylock, 
and I can remember nothing more comic than Home's 
rendering of the character. We bit our lips, we held our 
handkerchiefs to our mouths, we used every artifice at our 
command to conceal our laughter. We were fairly 
successful until Home, with an air of much dignity, 
sharpened his knife on the floor of the stage ; then we 
exploded, and Home's efforts to give to the world a white- 
washed Shylock came to an abrupt end. 

Home had undoubtedly a strain of genius, but it was 
linked to a most uncertain judgment, and was often 
qualified by a plentiful lack of common sense. He once 
submitted to me the manuscript of a most extraordinary 



78 SOME PAGES OF AUTOBIOGBAPHY 

novel. It was wonderfully clever, bat, from a pxiblisher's 
point of view, was quite impossible. It was written to 
sustain the proposition that every man and every woman 
had a preordained and natural affinity for some other 
particular man or woman, and this theory was illustrated 
from a rather coarse and physical point of view which 
certainly offended severe taste. The characters of the 
novel were extraordinary ; one of the most extraordinary 
was a philanthropist impressed with the idea that the 
world was overpopulated and anxious on grounds of purest 
benevolence to remedy the mistake by murdering as many 
people as he could. His numerous murders were trans- 
acted in a very odd fashion. He had his own leg cut off 
below the knee, and a wooden leg fitted on in its stead. 
This innocent-looking wooden leg was really a disguised 
rifle or air-gun. Every now and again a corpse was found 
with a bullet hole in it ; the neighbourhood was searched, 
but no trace of the murderer could be found. At last it 
occurred to the magistrate that there was always an old 
man with a wooden leg somewhere in the neighbourhood 
when one of these murders was committed. This led to 
the detection of the eccentric philanthropist, who, in spite 
of the benevolence of his motives, was broken by un- 
sympathetic legal authorities on the wheel. This curious 
philanthropist used to engage his intended victim in 
conversation, cock his wooden leg in an apparently careless 
fashion over the other knee, and suddenly shoot his un- 
suspecting interlocutor dead. And the writer of this 
extravagant novel was the author of * Orion ' ! I refused, 
much to Home's disgust, to publish the work, and it 
never, I believe, found a publisher. 

My next publishing venture brought me into relations 
with Leigh Hunt, and did so in rather a strange way. I 
went to Peckham to dine with Thomas Powell, who as 
well as being a confidential clerk in the counting-house 
of two brothers who were wealthy merchants in the City 



IN THE EABLY FOETIES 79 

dabbled in literature. The merchants were supposed to 
have suggested to Charles Dickens the Gheeryble Brothers 
in * Nicholas Nickleby/ Powell afterwards went to the 
United States and contributed articles of a very personal 
character to the New York newspapers about English 
men of letters. While I waited in Powell's little drawing- 
room for a few minutes before dinner, I took up a neatly 
written manuscript which was lying on the table, and was 
reading it when my host entered the room. ' Ah/ he said 
' that doesn't. look worth 40!., does it? I advance 402. to 
Leigh Hunt on the security of that manuscript, and I 
shall never see my money again.' When I was leaving I 
asked Powell to let me take the manuscript with me.' I 
finished reading it before I went to sleep that night, and 
next day I asked Powell if he would let me have the 
manuscript if I paid him the 40Z. He readily assented, 
and having got from him Leigh Hunt's address, I went off 
to him in Edwardes Square, Kensington, explained the 
circumstances under which the manuscript had come into 
my possession, and asked whether, if I paid him an addi- 
tional 60Z., I might have the copyright. *You young 
prince ! ' cried Leigh Hunt, in a tone of something like 
rapture, and the transaction was promptly concluded. The 
work was ' Imagination and Fancy.' It was succeeded by 
' Wit and Humour ' and other books, all of which were 
successful, and the introduction was the foundation of a 
friendship with Leigh Hunt and the members of his 
family which was very delightful to me. 

Leigh Hunt was of tall stature, with sallow, not to say 
yellow, complexion. His mouth lacked refinement and 
firmness, but he had large expressive eyes. His manner, 
however, had such fascination that, after he had spoken 
for five minutes, one forgot how he looked. He wrote 
the most charming letters, perfect alike in both form and 
spirit. I particularly enjoyed the simple old-fashioned 
suppers to which he frequently invited me. His daughter 



80 SOME PAGES OP AUTOBIOGBAPHT 

played and sang to us, and Leigh Hnnt told us the most 
delightful stories of his Italian travels, and of Shelley and 
Byron (whom he always called * Birron '). I lived on the 
north side of the park, and I remember I used to get over 
the palings to cross Kensington Gardens, and thus shorten 
the distance home ; the palings of those days were easily 
negotiated by an active young man. 

Business was by no means Leigh Hunt's strong point. 
In this respect, but no otherwise, he may have suggested 
Skimpole to Charles Dickens. On one of my visits I 
found him trying to puzzle out the abstruse question of 
how h€^ should deduct some such sum as thirteen shillings 
and ninepence from a sovereign. On another occasion I 
had to pay him a sum of money, lOOZ. or 2002., and I wrote 
him a cheque for the amount. ' Well,' he said, ' what am 
I to do with this little bit of paper ? ' I told him that if 
he presented it at the bank they would pay him cash for 
it, but I added, ' I will save you that trouble.' I sent to 
the bank and cashed the cheque for him. He took the 
notes away carefully enclosed in an envelope. Two days 
afterward Leigh Hunt came in a state of great agitation 
to tell me that his wife had burned them. He had thrown 
the envelope with the bank-notes inside carelessly down 
and his wife had flung it into the fire. Leigh Hunt's 
agitation while on his way to bring this news had not 
prevented him from purchasing on the road a little 
statuette of Psyche which he carried, without any paper 
round it, in his hand. I told him I thought something 
might be done in the matter ; I sent to the bankers and 
got the numbers of the notes, and then in company with 
Leigh Hunt went off to the Bank of England. I explained 
our business and we were shown into a room where three 
old gentlemen were sitting at tables. They kept us 
waiting some time, and Leigh Hunt, who had meantime 
been staring all round the room, at last got up, walked up 
to one of the staid officials, and addressing him said in 



IN THE EABLT POBTIBS 81 

wondering tones, ' And this is the Bank of England t And 
do you sit here all day, and never see the green Woods and 
the trees and flowers and the charming country ? ' Then 
in tones of remonstrance he demanded, ' Are you contented 
with such a life ? ' All this time he was holding the little 
naked Pysche in one hand, and with his long hair and 
flashing eyes made a surprising figure. I fancy I can stiU 
see the astonished faces of the three officials ; they would 
have made a most delightful picture. I said ' Come 
away, Mr. Hunt; these gentlemen are very busy.' I 
succeeded in canning Leigh Hunt 6ff, and after entering 
into certain formalities, we were told that the value of the 
notes would be paid in twelve months. I gave Leigh 
Hunt the money at once, and he went away rejoicing. 

On the whole my first modest experiences in pub- 
lishing were successful, and brought me into pleasant 
social relations with several authors. I remember I was 
very indignant that the firm would not allow me to add 
the profits of my ventures to the original sum which 
formed my publishing capital. I had reckoned on 
increasing that capital by the profits I made until I could 
undertake really large transactions ; but this expectation 
was disappointed, and my yearly profits melted into the 
general balance sheet of the firm. 



G 



82 SOME. PAGES OE AUTOBIOGBAPHY 



U 
CHARLOTTE BBONTM 

Reprinted from the * Gomhill Magazine,* December 1900 

• 

The ten years from 1840 to 1850 were a very eventful 
decade to me. In 1844 my father fell into ill health, and 
went to live at Box Hill near Dorking, where he died in 
August 1846. Mr. Elder had never taken a leading part 
in the business, and when my father's health broke down 
the general management to a great extent fell on me. 
At this time I was twenty years of age. In the year 
1845 we had to face the fact that my father's condition 
was hopeless, and he retired from the firm. Mr. Elder 
deciding to retire at the same time, a new partnership 
was constituted by the remaining partner (whose name 
I prefer not to mention) and myself. The partnership 
lasted only about two years, after which time I was under 
the painful necessity of dissolving it. The entire control 
of the business now fell upon my rather youthful 
shoulders. My condition was a very anxious one : nearly 
every penny my father possessed had been invested in the 
business ; the provision for my mother and my young 
brothers and sisters was absolutely dependent on its suc- 
cess ; and although the business was a profitable one, I 
had the gravest reasons for anxiety as to its financial 
position, which had been cruelly undermined. It will be 
seen that the situation was one to bring out whatever 
there was in me, and I worked with all the intensity and 
zeal of which I was capable. The work I got through 



CHABLOTTB BBONTfi 83 

may be described as enormous. In addition to my pre- 
vious responsibilities, I had to take in hand the Lidian 
and Colonial correspondence^ of which my partner had 
previously been in charge. This work was, of course, 
more difficult for me at first, as the details of it were new, 
but I quickly mastered it. I must in those days have 
had great powers of endurance ; the correspondence was 
heavy, the letters were often both very long and very 
important ; I used to dictate to a clerk while two others 
were occupied in copying. It was a common thing for 
me and many of the clerks to work until three or four 
o'clock in the morning, and occasionally, when there was 
but a short interval between the arrival and departure of 
the Lidian mails, I used to start work at nine o'clock of 
one morning, and neither leave my room nor cease dic- 
tating until seven o'clock the next evening, when the mail 
was despatched. During these thirty-two hours of con- 
tinuous work I was supported by mutton-chops and green 
tea at stated intervals. I believe I maintained my health 
by active exercise on foot and horseback, and by being 
able after these excessive stretches of work to sleep 
soundly for many hours ; on these occasions I generally 
got to bed at about eleven, and slept till three or four 
o'clock the next afternoon. 

Happily for me my mother removed to London shortly 
after my father's deai^, and I had the advantage of her 
daily support and sympathy. Naturally the hard work 
was not the worst for me ; the continuous anxiety and 
sense of responsibility from which I had to suffer were 
even more crushing. Had it not been that I had in my 
mother a woman of the most indomitable courage, I do 
not believe that I could have sustained the combined 
stress of anxiety and work. My mother^s cheerful spirit 
never forsook her: in looking back I can see that she 
devoted herself to sustaining my courage ; she even made 
fun of our perilous position. On one Sunday, when I was 

02 



84 SOME PAGES OP AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

unusually depressed, she took me for a Walk in Kensing- 
ton Gardens ; a more wretched creature than I felt, and 
I suppose looked, when we started for out walk could 
hardly be imagined, but my mother had evidently set her 
heart on cheering me. She had some gift of mimicry, 
and she drew such a humorous picture of the result of 
our utter ruin, when she expressed her intention, if the 
worst came, of having a Berlin wool shop in the Edgware 
Boad, and so admirably ipimicked one of my sisters — who 
was regarded in the family as having rather a taste for 
display — serving behind the counter, that I cotild not 
restrain my laughter, and returned home in a different 
and more hopeful condition of mind. 

At this time I was unable to give much attention to 
the publishing business, but the firm produced some 
books of importance, and if these unpretentious jottings 
are found interesting by the readers of the ' Comhill 
Magazine,' I may possibly ask the editor to give his con- 
sideration to a few of my reminiscences of their authors 
and of other writers whom I have known subsequently. 
Meanwhile I propose to devote the present paper to some 
recollections of a writer whose personality, as well as, or 
even more than, her literary gifts, was always interesting 
to me. 

In July 1847 a parcel containing a MS. reached our 
office addressed to the firm, but bearing also the scored- 
out addresses of three or four other publishing houses; 
showing that the parcel had been previously submitted to 
other publishers. This was not calculated to prepossess 
us in favour of the MS. It was clear that we were offered 
what had been already rejected elsewhere. 

The parcel contained the MS. of * The Professor,' by 
* Currer Bell,* a book which was published after Charlotte 
Bronte's death. Mr. Williams, the ^ reader * to the firm, 
read the MS., and said that it evinced great literary 
power, but he had doubts as to its being successful as a 



CHABLOTTB BEONTll 86 

publication. We decided that he should write to ' Currer 
Bell * a letter of appreciative criticism declining the work, 
but expressing an opinion that he could produce a book 
which would command success. Before, however, our 
letter was despatched, there came a letter from ' Currer 
Bell ' containing a postage-stamp for our reply, it having 
been hinted to the writer by ' an experienced friend ' that 
publishers often refrained from answering communica- 
tions unless a postage-stamp was furnished for the pur- 
pose I Charlotte Bronte herself has described the effect 
our letter had on her : 

As a forlorn hope, he tried one publishing house more. Ere 
long, in a much shorter space than that on which experience 
had taught him to calculate, there came a letter, which he 
opened in the dreary anticipation of finding two hard hopeless 
lines, intimating that ' Messrs. Smith, Elder, & Co. were not 
disposed to publish the MS.,' and, instead, he took out of the 
envelope a letter of two pages. He read it trembling. It 
declined, indeed, to publish that tale for business reasons, but 
it discussed its merits and demerits so courteously, so con- 
siderately, in a spirit so rational, with a discrimination so 
enlightened, that this very refusal cheered the author better 
than a vulgarly expressed acceptance would have done. It 
was added, that a work in three volumes would meet with 
careful attention. 

The writer of this letter was, as I have said, Mr. W. 
Smith Williams, and his name appears so frequently in 
all accounts of the Bronte family that a brief mention of 
his relations with Smith, Elder, & Co. may be interesting. 
When I first came into control of the business I felt 
the necessity of getting efficient assistance in the publish- 
ing department. A happy accident gave me the man I 
sought. The accounts of the firm had fallen into some 
confusion in consequence of my father's illness. Mr. 
Elder, who, on my father's breakdown, had taken charge 
of them, was but a poor accountant. Among the fijrst 
tasks to which I devoted myself was that of bringing the 



86 SOME PAGES OP AUTOBIOGBAPHY 

accounts into order. An account with the lithographers 
who had printed the illustrations for Darwin's * Zoology 
of the. Voyage of H.M.S. ** Beagle/' ' and for other books 
of smaller magnitude, was in an almost hopeless state of 
confusion. It had not been balanced for years, sums 
having being paid ' on account ' from time to time. 

I went to see the bookkeeper of the firm of litho- 
graphers — Mr. W. Smith Williams — ^taking with me a 
bundle of accounts with a view to getting them arranged 
in proper form. Mr. WiUiams's gifts as a bookkeeper I 
soon found were of a most primitive character. I asked 
him how he had struck his numerous balances, remarking 
that we had no corresponding balances in our books. 
' Oh 1 ' said Mr. Williams, ' those are the bottoms of the 
pages in our ledger; I always strike a balance at the 
bottom of a page to avoid the necessity of carrying over 
the figures on both sides.' I had a good many interviews 
with Mr. Williams, and if he was not a good bookkeeper, 
he was a most agreeable and most intelligent man, a man 
with literary gifts wasted in uncongenial work. My 
sympathy was excited by seeing one of so much ability 
occupied with work which he did ill, and which was 
distasteful to him ; and by noticing the overbearing 
manner in which he was treated by the junior member of 
the firm which employed him. Mr. Williams confided to 
me that, by way of relief from his bookkeeping efforts, he 
contributed reviews and other articles to the ' Spectator,' 
then making its high position under the able editorship 
of Mr. Bintoul. Mr. Williams used also to write theatrical 
criticisms for the ' Spectator,' but found himself hampered 
a good deal, he said, by the chilly temperament of his 
editor, Mr. Bintoul, who used to say, in the most im- 
pressive manner, * The " Spectator " is not enthusiastic, 
and must not be ' ! 

I fancied I had discovered the man who could help 
me in my publishing business. I invited Mr. Williams 



CHARLOTTE BEONTE 87 

to tea at my lodgings in Begent Street, and after tea I 
said to him, * Rightly or wrongly, I do not think you like' 
your present occupation? ' ' I hate it,' said Mr. Williams 
with fervour. This reply made clear sailing for me, and 
before he left my room we had arranged that he should 
come to Comhill as my literary assistant, and general 
manager of the publishing department. It was for both 
of us a happy arrangement. Mr. Williams remained with 
me imtil his advancing years obliged him to retire from 
active work. He was loyal, diligent, of shrewd Hterary 
judgment and pleasant manners, and proved a most 
valuable assistant; and his relations with me and my 
family were always of the most cordial description. 

In reply to Mr. Williams's letter came a brief note 
from- ' Currer Bell,' expressing grateful appreciation of the 
attention which had been given to the MS., and saying 
that the author was on the point of finishing another 
book, which would be sent to us as soon as completed. 

The second MS. was ' Jane Byre/ Here again 
* Currer Bell's ' suspicion as to the excessive parsimony of 
London publishers in regard to postage-stamps found 
expression in the letter accompanying the MS. She 
wrote : 

I find I cannot prepay the carriage of the parcel, as money 
for that purpose is not received at the small station where it is 
left. If, when you acknowledge the receipt of the MS., you 
would have the goodness to mention the amount charged on 
delivery, I will immediately transmit it in postage-stamps. 

The MS. of ' Jane Eyre ' was read by Mr. Williams 
in due course. He brought it to me on a Saturday, and 
said that he would like me to read it. There were no 
Saturday half-holidays in those days, and, as was usual, 
I did not reach home until late. I had made an appoint- 
ment with a friend for Sunday morning; I was to meet 
him about twelve o'clock, at a place some two or three 
miles from our house, and ride with him into the country. 



88 SOME PAGES OP AUTOBIOGBAPHT 

After breakfast on Sunday morning I took the MS. of 
' Jane Eyre ' to my little study, and began to read it. 
The story quickly took me captive. Before twelve o'clock 
my horse came to the door, but I could not put the book 
down. I scribbled two or three lines to my friend, saying 
I was very sorry that circumstances had arisen to prevent 
my meeting him, sent the note off by my groom, and went 
on reading the MS. Presently the servant came to tell 
me that luncheon was ready ; I asked him to bring me a 
sandwich and a glass of wine,^ and still went on with 
' Jane Eyre.* Dinner came ; for me the meal was a very 
hasty one, and before I went to bed that night I had 
finished reading the manuscript. 

The next day we wrote to * Currer Bell ' accepting 
the book for publication. I need say nothing about the 
success which the book achieved, and the speculations as 
to whether it was written by a man or a woman. For 
my own part I never had much doubt on the subject of 
the writer's sex ; but then I had the advantage over the 
general public of having the handwriting of the author 
before me. There were qualities of style, too, and turns 
of expression, which satisfied me that * Currer Bell ' was 
a woman, an opinion in which Mr. Williams concurred. 
We were bound, however, to respect the writer's 
anonymity, and our letters continued to be addressed to 
* Currer Bell, Esq.' Her sisters were always referred to 
in the correspondence as ' Messrs. Ellis and Acton Bell.' 
The works of Ellis and Acton Bell had been published by 
a Mr. Newby, on terms which rather depleted the scanty 
purses of the authors. When we were about to publish 
'Shirley' — the work which, in the sxraimer of 1848, 
succeeded 'Jane Ejrre' — we endeavoured to make an 
arrangement with an American publisher to sell him 
advance sheets of the book, in order to give him an 
advantage in regard to time over other American pub- 
lishers. There was, of course, no copyright with America 



CHABLOTTE BBONTB 89 

in those days. We were met during the negotiations with 
our American correspondents by the statement that Mr« 
Newby had informed them that he was about to publish 
the next book by the author of 'Jane Eyre/ under her 
other nam de plume of Acton Bell — Gurrer, Ellis, and 
Acton Bell being in fact, according to him, one person. 
We wrote to ' Currer Bell ' to say that we should be glad 
to be in a position to contradict the statement, adding at 
the same time we were quite sure Mr. Newby's assertion 
was untrue. Charlotte Bronte has related how the letter 
affected her. She was persuaded that her honour was 
impugned. 'With rapid decision,' says Mrs. Gaskell in 
her ' Life of Charlotte Bronte,' ^ Charlotte and her sister 
Anne resolved that they should start for London that very 
day in order to prove their separate identity to Messrs. 
Smith, Elder, & Co.' 

With what haste and energy the sisters plunged into 
what was, for them, a serious expedition, how they reached 
London at eight o'clock on a Saturday morning, took 
lodgings in the ' Chapter ' coffee-house in Paternoster 
Bow, and, after an agitated breakfast, set out on a 
pilgrimage to my ofSce in Comhill, is told at length in 
Mrs. Gaskell's * Life of Charlotte Bronte.' 

That particular Saturday morning I was at work in 
my room, when a clerk reported that two ladies wished to 
see me. I was very busy and sent out to ask their names. 
The clerk returned to say that the ladies declined to give 
their names, but wished to see me on a private matter. 
After a moment's hesitation I told him to show them in. 
I was in the midst of my correspondence, and my thoughts 
were far away from * Currer Bell ' and ' Jane Eyre.' Two 
rather quaintly* dressed little ladies, pale-faced and 
anxious-looking, walked into my room ; one of them came 
forward and presented me with a letter addressed, in my 
own handwriting, to ' Currer Bell, Esq.' I noticed that 
the letter had been opened, and said, with some sharpness. 



90 SOME PAGES OF AXTTOBIOGBAPHT 

* Where did you get this from ? '. * From the post-office/ 
was the reply ; ' it was addressed to me. We haye both 
come that yon might have ocular proof that there are at 
least two of us.' This then was * Currer Bell ' in person. 
I need hardly say that I was ^ at once keenly interested, 
not to say excited. Mr. Williams was called down and 
introduced, and I began to plan all sorts of attentions to 
our visitors. I tried to persuade them to come and stay 
at our house. This they positively declined to do, but 
they agreed that I should call with my sister and take 
them to the Opera in the evening. She has herself given 
an account of her own and her sister Anne's sensations 
on that occasion : how they dressed for the Opera in their 
plain, high-necked dresses : 

Fine ladies and gentlemen glanced at us, as we stood by 
the box-door, which was not yet opened, with a slight graceful 
superciliousness, quite wuranted by the circumstances. Still 
I felt pleasurably excited in spite of headache, sickness, and 
conscious ck>wnishne88 ; and I saw Anne was calm and 
gentle, which she always is. The performance was Bossini's 
Barber of Seville — very brilliant, though I fancy there are 
things I should like better. We got home after one o'clock. 
We had never been in bed the night before; had been in 
constant excitement for twenty-four hours ; you may imagine 
we were tired. 

My mother called upon them the next day. The 
sisters, after barely three days in London, returned to 
Haworth. In what condition of mind and body those 
few days left them is graphically told by Charlotte Bronte 
herself : 

On Tuesday morning we left London, laden with books Mr. 
Smith had given us, and got safely home« A more jaded 
wretch than I looked, it would be difiGicult to conceive. I was 
thin when I went, but I was meagre indeed when I returned, 
my face looking grey and very old, with strange deep lines 
ploughed in it— my eyes stared unnaturally. I was weak and 
yet restless. 



OHAELOTTB BRONTE . 91 

This is the only occasion on which I saw Anne Bronte. 
She was a gentle, quiet, rather subdued person, by.no 
means pretty, yet of a pleasing appearance. Her jnanner 
was curiously expressive of a wish for protection and 
encouragement, a kind of constant appeal ^which invited 
sympathy. 

I must confess that my first impression of Charlotte 
Bronte's personal appearance was that it was interesting 
rather than attractive. She was very small/ and had a 
quaint old-fashioned look. Her head seemed too large for 
her body. She had fine eyes, but her face was marred 
by the shape of the mouth and by the complexion. 
There was but little feminine charm about her ; and of 
this fact she herself was uneasily and perpetually conscious. 
It may seem strange that the possession of genius did not 
lift her above the weakness of an excessive anxiety about 
her personal appearance. But I believe that she would 
have given all her genius and her fame to have been 
beautiful. Perhaps few women ever existed more anxious 
to be pretty than she, or more angrily conscious of the 
circumstance that she was not pretty. 

Charlotte Bronte stayed with us several times. The 
utmost was, of course, done to entertain and please her. 
We arranged for dinner-psirties, at which artistic and 
literary notabilities, whom she wished to meet, were 
present. We took her to places which we thought would 
interest her — the * Times ' office, the General Post Office, 
the Bank of England, Newgate, Bedlam. At Newgate 
she rapidly fixed her attention on an individual prisoner. 
This was a poor girl with an interesting face, and aur 
expression of the deepest misery. She had, I believe, 
killed her illegitimate child. Miss Bronte walked up to 
her, took her hand, and began to tsdk to her. She was, 
of course, quickly interrupted by the prison warder with 
the formula, ' Visitors are not allowed to speak to the 
prisoners.* Sir David Brewster took her round the Great 



92 SOME PAGES OF AUTOBIOOBAPHT 

Exhibition, and made the visit a very interesting one to 
her. One thing which impressed her very much was the 
lighted rooms of the newspaper offices in Fleet Street and 
the Strand, as we drove home in the middle of the night 
from some City expedition. 

On one occasion I took Miss Bronte to the Ladies' 
Ghillery of the Honse of Commons. The Ladies' Grallery 
of those days was behind the Strangers' Gallery, and 
from it one conld see the eyes of the ladies above, 
nothing more. I told Miss Bronte that if she felt tired 
and widied to go away, she had only to look at me — ^I 
should know by the expression of her eyes what she 
meant — and that I would come round for hor. After a 
time I looked and looked. There were many eyes, they 
all seemed to be flashing signals to me, but much as 
I admired Miss Bronte's eyes I could not distinguish 
them from the others. I looked so earnestly from one 
pair of eyes to another that I am afraid that more 
than one lady must have regarded me as fb rather 
impudent fellow. At length I went round and took my 
lady away. I expressed my hope that I did not keep her 
long waiting, and said something about the difficulty of 
getting out after I saw her signal. * I made no signal,' 
she said. ' I did not wish to come away. Perhaps there 
were other signals from the Gallery.' 

Miss Bronte and her father had a passionate admira- 
tion for the Duke of Wellington, and I took her to the 
Chapel Eoyal, St. James's, which he generally attended 
on Sunday, in order that she might see him. We 
followed him out of the Chapel, and I indulged Miss 
Bronte by so arranging pur walk that she met him twice 
on his way to Apsley House. I also took her to a Friends' 
meeting-house in St. Martin's Court, Leicester Square. 
I am afraid this form of worship afforded her more amuse- 
ment than edification. 

We went together to a Dr. Browne^ a phrenologist 



CHABLOTTB BBONTEi 93 

who was then in vogue, using the naines of Mt. and Miss 
Fraser. Here is Dr. Browne's estimate of the talents 
and disposition o! Miss Bronte : 

A Phbbkological Estimate of thb Talents and 

Dispositions of a Lady. 

Temperament for the most part nervous. Brain large, the 
anterior and superior parts remarkably salient. In her 
domestic relations this lady will be warm and afEeotionate. In 
the oare of children she will evince judicious kindness, but sbe 
is not pleased at seeing them spoiled by over-indulgence. Her 
fondness for any particular locality would chiefly rest upon the 
associations connected with it. Her attachments are strong 
and enduring— indeed, this is a leading element of her character; 
she is rather circumspect, however, in the choice of her friends, 
and it is well that she is so, for she will seldom meet with 
persons whose dispositions approach the standard of excellence 
with which she can entirely sympathise. Her sense of truth 
and justice would be offended by any dereUction of duty, and 
she would in such cases express her disapprobation with warmth 
and energy ; she would not, however, be precipitate in acting 
thus, and rather than live in a state of hostility with those she 
could vnsh to love she would depart from them, although the 
breaking-off of friendship would be to her a source of great 
unhappiness. The careless and unreflecting, whom she would 
labour to amend, might deem her punctilious and perhaps 
exacting ; not considering that their amendment and not her 
own gratification prompted her to admonish. She is sensitive 
and is very anxious to succeed in her undertakings, but is not so 
sanguine as to the probability of success. She is occasionally 
inclined to take a gloomier view of things than perhaps the facts 
of the case justify; she should guard against the effect of this 
where her affection is engaged, for her sense of her ovm 
importance is moderate and not strong enough to steel her 
heart against disappointment ; she has more firmness than self- 
reliance, and her sense of justice is of a very high order. She 
is deferential to the aged and those she deems worthy of 
respect, and possesses much devotional feeling, but dislikes 
fanaticism and is not given to a belief in supernatural things 
without questioning the probability of their existence. 



94 SOME PAGES OF AtTTOBIOOBAPHY 

Money k not her idol : she values it meiely for its uses ; she 
would be liberal to the poor and compassionate to the aflSicted, 
and when friendship calls for ud she would struggle even 
against her own interest to impart the required assistance — 
indeed, sympathy is a marked characteristic of this organi- 
sation. 

Is fond of symmetry and proportion, and possesses a good 
perception of form, and is a good judge of colour. She is 
endowed with a keen perception of melody and rhythm. Her 
imitative powers are good, and the faculty which gives manual 
dexterity is well developed. These powers might have been 
cultivated with advantage. Is a fair calculator, and her sense 
of order and arrangement is remarkably good. Whatever this 
lady has to settle or arrange will be done with precision and 
taste. 

She is endowed with an exalted sense of the beautiful and 
ideal, and longs for perfection. If not a poet her sentiments 
are poetical, or are at least imbued with that enthusiastic glow 
which is characteristic of poetical feeling. She is fond of 
dramatic literature and the. drama, especially if it be combined 
with music. 

In its intellectual development this head is very remarkable. 
The forehead is at once very large and well formed. It bears 
the stamp of deep thoughtfulness and comprehensive under- 
standing. It is highly philosophical. It exhibits the presence 
of an intellect at once perspicacious and perspicuous. There is 
nauch critical sagacity and fertility in devising resources in 
situations of difficulty, much originality, with a tendency to 
speculate and generaJise. Possibly this speculative bias may 
sometimes interfere with the practical efficiency of some of her 
projects. Yet since she has scarcely an adequate share of seli- 
reliance, and is not sanguine as to the success of her plans, 
there is reason to suppose that she would attend more closely 
to particulars, and thereby present the unsatisfactory results of 
hasty generalisation. This, lady possesses a fine or^an of 
language, and can, if she has done her talents justice by exercise, 
express her sentiments with clearness, precision, and force — 
sufficientiy eloquent but not verbose. In learning a language 
she would invidstigate its spirit and structure. The character 
of the German language would he well adapted to such an 
organisation. In analysing the motives of human conduct^ this 



CHABLOTTB BEONTfi 95 

lady would display originality and power, but in her mode of 
investigating mental' science she would naturally be imbued 
with a metaphysical bias; she would perhaps be sceptical as to 
the truth of Gale's doctrine. But the study of this doctrine, 
this new system of mental philosophy, woiild give additional 
strength to her excellent understanding by rendering it more 
practical, more attentive to partictilars, and contribute to her 
happiness by imparting to her more correct notions of the 
dispositions of those whose acquaintance she may wish to 
cultivate. 

T. P. Browne^ M.D. 
367 Strand, June 29, 1851. 

Dr. Browne could not have had any idea whose head 
he was examining. A few days afterwards Mr. Bichard 
Doyle, whom I used to see frequently, mentioned that a 
friend of his had examined the head of a lady, and was so 
much struck by the imaginative power she possessed that 
he should like to find out something about her. * If he 
succeeds,* said Bichard Doyle, * I will tell you who she is ; 
for, if Dr. Browne is right, the lady ought to be worth 
your looking after.* The estimate of my own head was 
not so happy. From the frequent reference to it and to 
Mr. Fraser in Miss Bronte's letters to me I must have 
sent it to her, and I cannot find that I have kept a 
copy. 

Her letters show that she enjoyed the recollection of 
these visits, and the society at our house ; but my mother 
and sisters found her a somewhat difficult guest, and I am 
afraid she was never perfectly at her ease with them. 
Strangers used to say that they were afraid of her. She 
was very quiet and self-absorbed, and gave the impression 
that Bhe was always engaged in observing and analysing 
the people she met. She was sometimes tempted to 
confide her analysis to the victim. Here is an extract 
from a letter which she v^rote to myself : 

I will tell you a thing to be noted often in your letters and 
almost always in your conversation, a psychological things and 



96 SOME PAGES OF AUTOBIOOBAPHT 

not a maiier pertainmg io style or intellect — I mean an under- 
onrrent of quiet raillery, an inaudible laugh to yourself, a not 
unkindly, but somewhat subtle playing on your correspondent 
or companion for the time being — in short a sly touch of a 
Mephistopheles with the fiend extracted. In the present 
instance this speciality is perceptible only in the slightest 
degree, but it %$ there, and more or less you have it always. I 
by no means mention this as a fa/idt. I merely tell you you 
have it, and I can make the accusation with comfortable 
impunity, guessing pretty surely that you are too busy just 
now to deny this or any other charge. 

For my own part, I found her conversation most inter- 
esting; her quick and clear intelligence was delightful. 
When she became excited on any subject she was really 
eloquent, and it was a pleasure to listen to her. 

On an occasion when I took her to dine vnth Mr. 
Thackeray the excitement vnth which Charlotte Bronte's 
visit was expected is portrayed by Miss Thackeray, who 
was then a mere child : 

I can still see the scene quite plainly I — the hot summer 
evening, the open windows, the carriage driving to the door as 
we all sat silent and expectant ; my father, who rarely waited, 
waiting vrith us : our governess, my sister, and I all in a row, 
and prepared for the great event. We saw the carriage stop 
and out of it sprang the active, well-knit figure of young Mr. 
George Smith, who was bringing Miss Bronte to see our father. 
My father, who had been walking up and down the room, goes 
out into the hall to meet his guests, and then after a moment's 
delay the door opens vride, and the two gentlemen come in, 
leading a tiny, delicate, serious, little lady, pale, with fair 
straight hair, and steady eyes* She may be a little over thirty ; 
she is dressed in a little bar^e dress with a pattern of faint 
green mods. She enters in mittens, in silence, in seriousness ; 
our hearts are beating vrith wild excitement. 

Charlotte Bronte's intense interest in Thackeray, to 
whom she had dedicated the second edition of * Jane Eyre ' 
is graphically described by Miss Thackeray : 



OHAELOTTE BEONTE 9T 

She sat gazing at him with kindling eyes of interest, lighting 
up with a sort of illumination every now and then as she 
answered him. I can see her bending forward over the table 
not elating, but listening to what he said as he carved the dish 
before him. 

Thackeray himself has drawn a teaching picture of 
Charlotte Bronte as he first saw her : 

'I saw her first/ he says, 'just as I rose out of an illness 

from which I had never thoujght to recover. I remember the 

trembling little frame, the Uttle hand, the great honest eyes. 

An impetuous honesty seemed to me to characterise the 

woman/ 

• . • • • • • • 

New to the London world, she entered it with an indepen- 
dent, indomitable spirit of her own ; and judged of contempo- 
raries, and especially spied out arrogance and affectation, with 
extraordinary keenness of vision. She was angry with her 
favourites if their conduct or conversation fell below her ideal. 

How Charlotte Bronte could ' ctill ' a party is humo- 
rously described by Mrs Eichmond Eitchie in her account 
of an evening reception given by her father in Charlotte 
Bronte's honour : 

Every one waited for the brilliant conversation which never 
began at all. . . The room looked very dark, the lamp began 
to smoke a little, the conversation grew dimmer and more dim, 
the ladies sat round still expectant, my father was too much 
perturbed by the gloom and the silence to be able to cope with 
it at all. 

At a later stage in the evening Miss Thackeray tells us 
how 

I was surprised to see my father opening the front door with 
his hat on. He put his fingers to his lips, walked out into the 
darkness, and shut the door quietly behind him. When I went 
back to the drawing-room again the ladies asked me where he 
was. I vaguely answered that I thought he was coming back. 

Bnt he was not ! He hlebd given up his own parly in 

H 



98 SOME PAGES OF AUTOBIOGBAPHY 

despair, and betaken himself to the consolations of a cigar 
at his dab 1 The gloom, the constraint, the general situ- 
ation had OTerwhelmed him. 

* The ladies/ says Miss Thackeray, ' waited, wondered, and 
finally departed also. As we were going up to bed with our 
candles after everybody was gone I remember two pretty Miss 

L 's in shiny silk dresses arriving, full of expectation. We 

still said we thought our father would soon be back ; but the 

Miss L 's declined to wait upon the chance, laughed, and 

drove away.' 

Mrs. Procter was accustomed to tell the story of that even* 
ing vnth much humour. It was, she always declared, 
' one of the dullest evemngs she ever spent in her life,' 
though she extracted much entertainment from it years 
afterwards. The failure of this attempt by Thackeray to 
entertain Charlotte Bronte illustrates one aspect of the 
character of both of them : in Charlotte Bronte her want 
of social gifts; in Thackeray his impatience of social 
discomfort. 

Mrs. Brookfield, who was perfectly at home in any 
society, said that Charlotte Bronte was the the most diffi- 
cult woman to talk to she had ever met. That evening 
at Thackeray's house she tried hard to enter into conver- 
sation Ynth her. Mrs. Brookfield used to relate with 
some humour what she called 'my conversation with 
Charlotte Bronte.' She said, < I opened it by saying I 
hoped she liked London ; to which Charlotte Bronte 
replied curtly, " I do and I don't." ' Naturally Mrs. 
Brookfield's audience used to wait for more, but, said Mrs. 
Brookfield, * that is all.' 

If Miss Bronte did not talk much, as was usual vnth 
her, she kept her eyes open. One of Mr. Thackeray's 
guests was Miss Adelaide Procter, and those who remem- 
ber that lady's charming personality vnll not be surprised 
to learn that I was greatly attracted by her. During our 
drive home I was seated opposite to Miss Bronte, and I 



CHABLOTTB BBONTfe 99 

was startled by her leaning forward, patting her hands on 
my knees, and saying ' She would make you a very nice 
wife.' 'Whom do you mean?* I replied. 'Oh! you 
know whom I mean/ she said; and we relapsed into 
silence. Though I admired Miss Procter very much, it 
was not a case of love at first sight, as Miss Bronte 
supposed. 

When I first asked Thackeray to dine to meet Charlotte 
Bronte, he offended her by failing to respect the anony* 
mity behind which, at that time, she was very anxious to 
screen herself. On another occasion Thackeray roused 
the hidden fire in Charlotte Bronte's soul, and was badly 
scorched himself as the result. My mother and I had 
taken her to one of Thackeray's lectures on ' The English 
Humourists.' * After the lecture Thackeray came down 
from the platform and shook hands with many of the 
audience, receiving their congratulations and compliments. 
He was in high spirits, and rather thoughtlessly said to 
his mother — Mrs. Carmichael Smyth — ' Mother, you must 
allow me to introduce you to Jane Eyre.' This was 
uttered in a loud voice, audible over half the room. Every- 
body near turned round and stared at the disconcerted 
Uttle lady, who grew confused and angry when she reaUsed 
that every eye was fixed upon her. My mother got her 
away aa quickly ae poesible. 

On the next afternoon Thackeray called. I arrived 
at home shortly afterwards, and when I entered the draw- 
ing-room found a scene in full progress. Only these two 
were in the room. Thackeray was standing on the 
hearthrug, looking anything but happy. Charlotte Bronte 
stood close to him, with head thrown back and face white 
with anger. The first words I heard were, ' No, Sir ! If 
you had come to our part of the country in Yorkshire, 
what would you have thought of me if I had introduced 
you to my father, before a mixed company of strangers, 
as "Mr. Warrington"?' Thackeray replied, 'No, you 

h2 



100 BOMB PAGES OF AUTOBIOGBAPHT 

mean "Arthur Pendennis/' ' 'No, I don't mean Arthur 
Pendennifli' retorted Miss Bronte; 'I mean Mr. War- 
rington, and Mr. Warrington would not have behaved as 
yon behaved to me yesterday.' The spectacle of this little 
woman, hardly reaching to Thackeray's elbow, but, some- 
haWi looking stronger and fiercer than himself, and cast- 
ing her incisive words at his head, resembled the dropping 
of shells into a fortress. 

By this time I had recovered my presence of mind, 
and hastened to interpose. Thackeray made the necessary 
and half-humorous apologies, and the parting was a 
friendly one. • 

Thackeray shocked Charlotte Bronte sadly by the 
fashion of his talk on literary subjects. The truth is, 
Charlotte Bronte's heroics roused Thackeray 's antagonism. 
He declined to pose on a pedestal for her admiration, and 
with characteristic contrariety of nature he seemed to be 
tempted to say the very things that set Charlotte Bronte's 
teeth, so to speak, on edge, and affronted all her ideals. 
He insisted on discussing his books very much as a clerk 
in a bank would discuss the ledgers he had to keep for a 
salary. But all this was, on Thackeray's part, an affecta- 
tion : an affectation into which he was provoked by what 
he considered Charlotte Bronte's high falutin'. Miss 
Bronte wanted to persuade him that he was a great man 
with a ' misBon ; ' and Thackeray, with many wicked jests, 
declined to recognise the ' mission.' 

But, despite all this, Charlotte Bronte, much as she 
scolded Thackeray, never doubted his greatness. He was, 
she once said, ' a Titan in mind.' 

Before Thackeray went to America in the autumn of 
1852 I had a portrait of him made by Mr. Samuel 
Laurence as a present to his daughters. My mother took 
Charlotte Bronte to see it at the artist's studio. It was 
a very fine and expressive rendering of Thackeray's 
powerful head. Charlotte Bronte stood looking long upon 



CHABLOTTB BEONTfi 101 

it in silence ; and then, as if quoting the worda tui- 
consciously, she said : * There came up a lion out of 
Judah/ 

After Charlotte Bronte's first Visit to our house her 
anonymity was dropped, and people naturally tried to draw 
her out. She shrank from: this, or resented it, and seemed 
to place herself under my mother's care for protection. 
My mother accepted the position, and was generally equal 
to it, but sometimes, when accident left Charlotte Bronte 
exposed to a direct attack, the fire concealed beneath her 
mildness broke out. The first time this happened I was 
not a little surprised. G. H. Lewes, who was lunching 
with us, had the indiscretion to say across the table, 
* There ought to be a bond of sympathy between us. Miss 
Bronte ; for we have both written naughty books t ' This 
fired the train with a vengeance, and an explosion 
followed. I listened with mingled admiration and alarm 
to the indignant eloquence with which that impertinent 
remark was answered. 

By way of parenthesis, I misiy say that ' Jane Eyre ' 
was really considered in those days by many people to be 
an immoral book. My mother told me one evening that 
Lady Herschel, having found the book in her drawing- 
room, said : ' Do you leave such a book as this about, at 
the risk of your daughters reading it ? ' Charlotte Bronte 
herself was quite unconscious that the book possessed, in 
any degree, a reputation of this sort ; and she was as much 
surprised as affronted when Lady Eastlake — then Miss 
Rigby^ — in her review of * Jane Eyre * in the * Quarterly 
Review' (December 1848) brutally said that 'if it were 
written by a woman, it must be by one who had forfeited 
the right to the society of her sex.' 

Charlotte Bronte had much nobility of character; she 
had an almost exaggerated sense of duty; she was 
scrupulously honest and perfectly just. When Sir James 
Stephen, the father of the late Mr. Justice Stephen, said 



lOa SOME PAGES OE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

ta me daring a long conversation I had with him at 
Cambridge on a very delicate snbject, * I have lived a long 
and not nnobservant life, and I have never yet met with a 
perfectly just woman,' I conld not help thinking that he 
had never met Charlotte Bronte. Miss Bronte was 
critical of* character, but not of action ; this she judged 
favourably and kindly. Generally, I thought, she put too 
kind an interpretation on the actions of a friend. 

As I have mentioned, my mother and sisters com- 
plained that Charlotte Bronte always seemed to them to 
be noting and analysing everything that was said and 
everything that happened. That they were more or less 
right can hardly be doubted, and the following extract 
from a letter, written after her first visit to London to a 
friend in New Zealand, and sent by her to Mrs. Gaskell — 
who gave it to me — is a salient instance of Charlotte 
Bronte's habit in this respect : 

Mr. Smith's residence at Bayswater, six miles from Corn- 
hill, is a very fine place. The rooms, the drawing-rooms 
especially, looked splendid to us. There was no company, only 
his mother, his two grown-up sisters, and his brother, a lad of 
twelve or thirteen, and a little sister, the youngest of the family, 
very like himself. They are all dark-eyed, dark-haired, and 
have clear pale faces. The mother is a portly handsome 
woman of her age, and all the children were more or less well- 
looking, one of the daughters decidedly pretty. We had a fine 
dinner, which neither Anne nor I had appetite to eat, and 
were glad when it was over. I always feel under an awkward 
constraint at table ; dining out would be hideous to me. Mr. 
Smith made himself very pleasant. He is a firm, intelligent 
man of business, though so young ; bent on getting on, and I 
think desirous to make his way by fair honourable means. He 
is enterprising, but Ukewise cool and cautious. Mr. Smith is a 
practical man : I wish Mr. Williams were more so, but he is 
altogether of the contemplative theorising order. Mr. Williams 
has too many abstractions. 

The * fine place ' in Bayswater was a house in West- 



CHAELOTTB BEONTB 103 

bourne Place, now a street of shops. The house in which 
we lived is occupied by a hairdresser, and you may 
purchase cosmetics and hairpins in what used to be the 
dining-room, and have your hair cut, curled, singed, and 
shampooed in the little room in which I read the manu- 
script ot * Jane Eyre.' 

'Yillette' is full of scenes which one can trace to 
incidents which occurred during Miss Bronte's visits 
to us. 

The scene at the theatre at Brussels in that book, and 
the description of the actress, were suggested by Bachel, 
whom we took her to see more than once. The scene of 
the fire comes from a slight accident to the scenery at 
Devonshire House, where Charles Dickens, Mr. Forster, 
and other men of letters gave a performance. I took 
Charlotte Bronte and one of my sisters to Devonshire 
House, and when the performance, which was for a charity, 
was repeated, I took another of my sisters, who had been 
too unwell to go on the first occasion, and a Miss D. At 
one stage of tiie second performance the scenery caught 
fire. There was some risk of a general panic, and I took 
my sister and Miss D. each by the wrist, and held them 
down till the panic had ceased. I seem to have written 
a description of the occurrence to Miss Bronte, for I find 
that she refers to it in one of her letters, saying, ' It is easy 
to realise the scene.' 

In ' ViUette ' my mother was the original of * Mrs. 
Bretton ; ' several of her expressions are given verbatim. I 
myself, as I discovered, stood for ' Dr. John.* Charlotte 
Bronte admitted this to Mrs. Gaskell, to whom she wrote : 
' I was kept waiting longer than usual for Mr. Smith's 
opinion of the book, and I was rather uneasy, for I 
was afraid he had found me out, and was offended.' 

During Miss Bronte's visit to us in June 1850, I 
persuaded her to sit to Mr. George Bichmond for her 
portrait. This I sent afterwards with an engraving of the 



m SOME PAGES OP AUTQBIOGEAPHY 

portrait of the Duke of Wellington to her father, who wqiS 
much pleased with them. ; ^ 

Mr. Bichmond mentioned that when she saw the 
portrait (she was not allowed to see it before it was 
finished) she burst into tears, exclaiming that it was so 
like her sister Anne, who had died the year before. 

At the conclusicHi of this visit I had to take a young 
brother to Scotland. I was accompanied by my sister, 
and with some difficulty I induced Miss Bronte to meet 
us in Edinburgh. I think the visit was very agreeable 
and interesting to her. We were fortunate in getting a 
driver, whom we engaged for the whole of our visit, who 
knew every interesting nook and comer in Edinburgh, 
who was better read in Scottish history and the Waverley 
Novels than I was, and whose dry humour exactly suited 
Miss Bronte. We left her in Yorkshire on our way back 
to London. 

Towards the end of 1853 I was engaged to be married, 
and wrote to inform Miss Bronte of the fact. Her reply 
was brief, but she afterwards wrote more at length on the 
subject, when informing me of her engagement to Mr. 
NichoUs, 

I tiiank you for your congratulations and good wishes ; if 
these last are realised but in part I shall be very thankful. It gave 
me also sincere pleasure to 1^ assured of your happiness, though 
of that I never doubted. I have faith also in its permanent 
character— provided Mrs. George Smith is-^what it pleases me 
tb fancy her to be. You never told me any particulars about 
her, though I should have liked them much, but did not like to 
ask questions, knowing how much your mind and time would 
be engaged. What I have to say is soon told. 

The step in contemplation is no hasty one; on the gentle- 
man's side at least, it has been meditated for many years, and 
I hope that, in at last acceding to it, I am acting right ; it iis 
what I earnestly wish to do. My future husband is a clergy- 
man.. He was for eight years my father's curate. He left 
because the idea of this marriage was not entertained as he 



CHAELPTTE BEONTB . 105 

wished. His departure was regarded by the parish as a 
calamity, for he had devoted himself to his duties with no 
ordinary diligence. Various circumstances have led my father 
to consent to his return, nor can I deny that my own feelings 
have been much impressed and changed by the nature and 
strength of the qualities brought out in the course of his long 
attachment. I fear I must accuse myself of having formerly 
done him less than justice. However, he is to come back now. 
He has foregone many chances of preferment to return to the 
obscure village of Haworth. I believe I do right in marrying 
him. I mean to try to make him a good wife. TherQ has been 
heavy anxiety— but I begin to hope all will end for the best. 
My expectations, however, are very subdued — ^very different, I 
dare say, to what yours were before you were married. Care 
and Fear stand so close to Hope, I sometimes scarcely even see 
her for the shadows they cast. And yet I am thankful too, and 
the doubtful Future must be left with Providence. 

* 

On one feature in the marriage I can dwell with unmingled 
satisfaction, with a certainty ,ot being right. It takes nothing 
from the attention I owe. to my father. I am not to leave him ; 
my future husband consents to come here — thus papa secures 
by the step a devoted and reliable assistant in his old age. 

There can, of course, be no reason for withholding the 
intelligence from your mother and sisters ; remember me 
imdl to them whenever you write. 

I hardly know in what form of greeting to include your 
wife's name, as I have never seen her. Say to her whatever 
may seem to you most appropriate and most expressive of good- 
will 

Yours sincerely, 

G. BBONTi. 

Miss Bronte and my wife never met. She was mar- 
ried to the Bev. Arthur B. NichoUs on June 29| 1854> and 
died on March SI, 1866. 



106 SOME PAGES OF AUTOBIOGBAPHY 



OUB BIBTH AND PABENTAGE 

Beprinted from the * Gornhill Magazine/ January 1901 

If periodicals may be said to have birthdays, this is a 
' Comhill Magazine ' birthday. As has been recorded by 
the graceful pen of Mrs. Bichmond Ritchie, the first 
number was published in January 1860. Mrs. Bichmond 
Bitchie writes of her impressions of the event from the 
home of the editor, and gives a charming picture of the 
domestic excitement caused by her father's new experience 
in editorship. My recollections are generally of a more 
matter-of-fact character, and must needs be related in a 
more commonplace manner. 

Early in 1859 I conceived the idea of founding a new 
magazine. The plan flashed upon me suddenly, as did 
most of the ideas which have in the course of my life led 
to successful operations. The existing magazines were 
few, and when not high-priced were narrow in Utera^ 
range, ai^d it seemed to me that a shilling magazine which 
contained, in addition to other first-class literary matter, 
a serial novel by Thackeray must command a large sale. 
Thackeray's name was one to conjure with, and according 
to the plan, as it shaped itself in my mind, the public 
would have a serial novel by Thackeray, and a good deal 
else well worth reading, for the price they had been accus- 
tomed to pay for the monthly numbers of his novels alone. 

I had, at first, no idea of securing Thackeray as editor. 
In spite of all his literary gifts I did not attribute to him 



OUE BIBTH AND PABENTAQB 107 

the business qualities which go to make a good editor. 
But a novel by Thackeray was essential to my scheme* 
I wrote on a slip of paper the terms I was prepared to o£Eer 
for his co-operation, and I went to him with it. I had 
previously published ' Esmond,' ' The Kickleburys on the 
Bhine,* 'The English Humourists of the Eighteenth 
Century/ < The Bose and the Bing/ and I had an impression 
that Thackeray liked my mode of transacting business. I 
said I wanted him to read a little memorandum, and added, 
' I wonder whether you will consider it, or will at once 
consign it to -your wastepaper-basket I ' 

Here are the ipsissima verba of my proposal : 

' Smith, Elder, & Go. have it in contemplation to commence 
the publication of a Monthly Magazine on January 1st, 1860. 
They are desirous of inducing Mr. Thackeray to contribute 
to their periodical, and they make the following proposal to 
Mr> Thackeray : 

'1. That he shall write either one or two novels of the 
ordinary size for publication in the Magazine — one-twelfth 
portion of each novel (estimated to be about equal to one number 
of a serial) to appear in each number of the Magazine. 

' 2. That Mr. Thackeray shall assign to Smith, Elder, & Go. 
the right to publish the novels in their Magazine and in a 
separate form afterwards, and to all sums to be received for the 
work from American and Gontinental Publishers. 

' 3. That Smith, Elder, & Go. shall pay Mr. Thackeray 3502. 
each month. 

' 4. That the profits of all editions of the novels published at 
a lower price than the first edition shall be equally divided 
between Mr. Thackeray and Smith, Elder, & Go. 

' 65 GoBNHiLL : February 19th, 1859/ 

Thackeray read the slip carefully, and, with character- 
istic absence of guile, allowed me to see that he regarded 
the {erms as phenomenal. Whea he had finished reading 
the paper, he said with a droll smile : ' I am not going to 
put such a document as this into my wastepaper-basket.' 



108 BOMB PAGES OF AUTOBIOGBAPHY 

We had a little talk of an explanatory kind, and he 
agreed to considd: my proposal. He subsequently accepted 
it, and the success of this part of my plans was assured. 

My next step was to secure an editor. I applied in 
the first instance to Mr. Tom Hughes, who received me 
with the genial manner for which he was remarkal^le, but 
he would not say ' Yes.' He had thrown in his lot, he 
explained, with Macmi.Uan*s, and with characteristic 
loyalty did not feel free to take qthei^ literary work. 
Several other names came under consideration, but none 
seemed to be exactly suitable, and I was at my wits' end. 
All my plans, indeed, were * hung up,* pending the engage- 
ment of an editor. We were then living at Wimbledon, 
and I used to ride on the Common before breakfast. One 
morning, just as I had pulled up my horse after a smart 
gallop, that good genius which has so often helped me 
whispered into my ear, ' Why should not Jdr. Thackeray 
edit the magazine, you yourself doing what is necessary 
to supplement any want of business qualifications on his 
part ? You know that he has a fine literary judgment, a 
great reputation with men of letters as well as with the 
public, and any writer would be proud to contribute to a 
periodical under his editorship.' 

After breakfast I drove straight to Thackeray's house 
in Onslow Square, talked to him of my difficulty, and 
induced him to accept the editorship, for which he was to 
receive a salary of 1,0002. a year. . 

Then I set to work with energy to make the under- 
taking a success. We secured the most brilliant con- 
tributors from every quarter. Our terms were lavish 
almost to the point of recklessness. No pains and no cost 
were spared to make the new magazine the best 
periodical yet known to English Uterature. 

The name of the * Comhill Magazine ' was suggested 
by Thackeray, and : was, at the time, much ridiculed. 
Sarcastic journalists asked whether it suited the 'dignity * 



OtJE BIBTH AND PARENTAGE 1(» 

of literature to label a magazine with the name of a street ? 
Should we not next have such periodicals as ' The Smith- 
field Eeview/ or 'The lieadenhall Market Magazine'? 
But the name ' Cbrnhill Magazine ' really set the example 
of quite a new class of titles for periodicals — titles that 
linked the magazines that bore them to historic localities 
in London, where perhaps they were published. Thus we 
have since had 'Temple Bar,' 'Belgravia,' *St. Pauls 
Magazine,' the ' Strand,' &c., &c. 

Thackeray wrote an excellent advertisement of the 
new magazine, in the form of a letter which is worth 
reproducing. 

* The Ck>rnhill Magazine/ Smith, Elder, d; Oo« 
65, ComhiU, November 1, 1859. 



A LKTTEB FBOM THB EDITOB TO A FRIEND AND OONTBIBUTOB. 

Dbab — -• Our Store-House being in ComhiU, we date 
and name our Magazine from its place of publication. We 
might have assumed a title much more startling : for example, 
' The Thames on Fire ' was a name suggested ; and, placarded 
in red letter^ about the City, and Country, it would no doubt 
have excited some curiosity. But, on going to London Bridge^ 
the expectant rustic would h^ive found the stream rolling on 
its accustomed course, and would have turned away angry at 
being hoaxed. Sensible people are not to be misled by fine 
prospectuses and sounding names; the present Writer has 
been for five-and-twenty years before the world, which has 
taken his measure pretty accorately. We are too long 
acquainted to try and deceive one another; and were I to 
propose any such astounding feat as that above announced, I 
know quite well how the schemer would be received, and the 
scheme would end. 

You, then, who ask what ' The Comhill Magazine ' is to be, 
and what sort of articles you shall supply for it ? — ^if you were 
told that the Editor, known hitherto only by his published 
writings, was in reality a great reformer, pbilosopber^ and wise- 
acre, about to expound prodigious doctrines and truths ;until 
now unrevealed, to guide and direct the peoples, to pull down 
tiie existing order of things, to edify new social or political 



UO SOME PAGES OF AUTOBIOGBAPHT 

straotnxes, and, in ft word, to set the Thames on Fire ; if yon 
heard such designs ascribed to him — riswn teneatis t You 
know I have no saoh pretensions : but, as an Author who has 
written long, and had the good fortune to find a very great 
number of readers, I think I am not mistaken in supposing that 
they give me credit for experience and observation, for having 
lived with educated people in many countries, and seen the 
world in no small variety ; and, having heard me soliloquise, 
with so much kindness and favour, and say my own say about 
life, and men and women, they will not be unwilling to try me 
as Conductor of a Concert, in which I trust many skilful 
performers will take part. 

We hope for a large number of readers, and must seek, in 
the first place, to amuse and interest them. Fortunately for 
some folks, novels are as daily bread to others ; and fiction of 
course must form a part, but only a part, of our entertainment. 
We want, on the other hand, as much reality as possible — 
discussion and narrative of events interesting to the public, 
personal adventures and observations, familiar reports of 
scientific discovery, description of Social Institutions — quicquid 
agunt homines — a ' Great Eastern,' a battle in China, a Bace- 
Course, a popular Preacher — ^there is hardly any subject we 
d<m*t want to hear about, from lettered and instructed men who 
are competent to speak on it. 

I read the other day in * The Illustrated London News ' (in 
my own room at home), that I was at that moment at 
Bordeaux, purchasing first-class claret for first-class con- 
tributors, and second class for those of inferior cm. Let me 
adopt this hospitable simile ; and say that at our contributors' 
table, I do not ask or desire to shine especially myself, but to 
take my part occasionally, and to invite pleasant and instructed 
gentlemen and ladies to contribute their share to the con- 
versation. It may be a Foxhunter who has the turn to speak ; 
or a Geologist, Engineer, Manufacturer, Member of the House 
of Commons, Lawyer, Chemist — ^what you please. If we can 
only get people to tell what they know, pretty briefly and good- 
humouredly, and not in a manner obtrusively didactic, what a 
pleasant ordinary we may have, and how gladly folks will come 
to it 1 If our friends have good manners, a good education, 
and write in good English, the company, I am sure, will be all 
the better pleased ; and the guests, whatever their rank, age. 



OUR BIBTH AND PAEENTAGB 111 

sex be, will be glad to be addressed by well-educated gentlemen 
and women. A professor ever so learned, a curate in his 
country retirement, an artisan after work-hours, a schoolmaster 
or mistress when the children are gone home, or the young ones 
themselves when their lessons are ovdr, may like to hear what 
the world is talking about, or be brought into friendly com- 
munication with persons whom the world knows. There are 
points on which agreement is impossible, and on these we need 
not touch. At our social table, we shall suppose the ladies and 
children always present; we shall not set rival poUticians by 
the ears ; we shall listen to every guest who has an apt word 
to say ; and, I hope, induce clergymen of various denominations 
to say grace in their turn. The kindly fruits of the earth, 
which grow for all — may we not enjoy them with friendly 
hearts ? The field is immensely wide ; the harvest perennial, 
and rising -everywhere; we can promise competent fellow- 
labourers a welcome and a good wage ; and hope a fair custom 
from the public for our stores at ' The Gobneill Magazine.' 

W. M. THACKEBAY. 

The cover of the magazine, designed by Mr. Godfrey 
Sykes, a young student at the South Kensington Schools 
of Art, had the good fortune to strike the popular taste, 
and I still think it most efiEective. When I showed the 
sketch of the cover to Thackeray, he said: ^What a 
lovely design ! I hope you have given the man a good 
cheque 1 ' The only complaint that has ever been made 
against the design is that the sower shown in it is sovdng 
VTith his left hand. But a sower uses his hanAs alter- 
nately. He goes dovm the row scattering vdth his right 
hand, and as he comes back he scatters writh his left. I 
was in the country just after this criticism on the design 
appeared in the papers, and actually saw a man sovring 
with his left hand ; and, of course, I made the most of 
the circumstance. 

It was arranged that Thackeray was to vmte ' Lovel 
the Widower ' for the magazine ; but we thought it well 
to secure a second novel, and decided on asking Anthony 
Trollope to vmte a serial. 



113 BOMB PAGES OF ATJTOBIOGBAPHT 

In his 'Autobiography * TroUope describes his astonish* 
ment at finding the ' Comhill Magazine/ after its advent 
had been announced so long, still onsupplied with a serial^ 
and he quotes this as a proof of Thackeray's incorrigible 
habit of loitering. ' Framley Parsonage/ he says, had to 
take the foremost place in the new magazine in default of 
a novel which Thackeray ought to have written but did 
not. But there was no default on Thackeray's part. His 
'Lovel the Widower/ as had been arranged, made its 
appearance in the first number of the 'Comhill.' 
* Framley Parsonage ' was given the place of honour id 
the new magazine by Thackeray's own arrangement and 
on the grounds of pure courtesy ; it was exactly as a host 
would invite a guest to walk into a room before himself. 
This is an example of Thackeray's quaint and chivalrous 
courtesy in literary matters. He would not claim the 
first place in hia own magazine. He looked upon himself 
as the host, and upon TroUope as his guest; 

It occurred to me that if I could secure Tennyson as 
a regular contributor to the new magazine he would prove 
a great attraction. His ' Idylls of the Eing ' had not 
long appeared, and I thought I would ask him iio write 
for us another set of * Idylls/ Tennyson was then on a 
visit to Mrs. Cameron on Putney Heath, and I wrote to 
ask if I might call upon him on a matter of business. 
He made an appointment, and during our interview, I 
offered to pay him five thousand guineas for as many lines 
as were contained in the ' Idylls of the King ' (in fact for 
4,750 lines), on condition that the poems should be 
printed in the 'Comhill Magazine' and that I should 
publish them for three years afterwards. That offer was 
really a ' record ' as far as the market rates of poetry up 
to that time were concerned. When compared with any- 
thing Tennyson had yet received for his poems it might 
fairly be described as extravagant* 

Tennyson listened to my proposal with entire calmness.. 



OUB BIBTH AND PABBNTAQB 118 

He asked me to smoke with him and chatted pleasantly ; 
but gave me no idea as to whether my offer wa^ accept- 
able. Mrs. Tennyson presently came into the room, and 
Tennyson addressing her, said : ' My dear, we are much 
richer than we thought we were. Mr. Smith has just 
offered me five thousand guineas for a book the size of 
the " Idylls." And/ he continued, * if Mr. Smith offers 
five thousand, of course the book is worth ten!' A 
remark at which we all laughed. Nothing came of this 
proposal, which I had no temptation to renew after the 
rapid success achieved by the magazine. But Thackeray 
obtained from Tennyson his fine poem * Tithonus ' for 
the second number. 

We had secured a quite remarkable body of con- 
tributors: public attention was keenly fixed on the new 
venture, and when the first number appeared in January 
1860 the sale was astonishing. It was the literary event 
of the year. Along GomhiU nothing was to be seen but 
people carrying bundles of the orange-coloured magazine. 
Of the first number some 120,000 copies were sold, 
a number then without precedent in English serial 
literature* 

The exhilarating effect of this success on its editor is 
amusingly described by Mr. James T. Fields in his 
' Yesterdays with Authors.' Mr. Fields says : 

'The enormous circulation achieved by the ''Gomhill 
Magazine," when it was first started with Thackeray for its 
editor-m-chief, is a matter of literary. history. The announce- 
ment by his publishers that a sale of a hundred and ten thou- 
sand of the first number had been reached made the editor half 
delirious with joy, and he ran away to Paris to be rid of the 
excitement for a few days. I met him by appointment at his 
hotel in the Bue de la Paix, and found him wild with exultation 
and full of enthusiasm for excellent George Smith, his publisher. 
"London," he exclaimed, ''is not big enough to contain me 
now, and I am obliged to add Paris to my residence ! Great 
heavens," said he, throwing up his long arms, " where will this 

I 



114 SOME PAGES OF AUTOBIOGBAPHY 

tremendous oirciilatioii stop I Who knows but that I shall 
have to add Vienna and Borne to my whereabouts ? If the 
worst comes to the worst, New York, also, may fall into my 
clutches, and only the Booky Mountains may be able to stop 
my progress I " Those days in Paris with him were simply 
tremendous. We dined at all possible and impossible places 
together. We walked round and round the glittering court of 
the Palais Boyd, gazing in at the windows of the jewellers' 
shops, and all my efforts were necessary to restrain him from 
rushing in and ordering a pocketful of diamonds and " other 
trifles," as he called them ; " for," said he, '' how can I spend 
the princely income which Smith allows me for editing the 
' Gomhill,' unless I begin instantly somewhere ? " If he saw a 
group of three or four -persons talking together in an excited 
way, after the manner of that then riant Parisian people, he 
would whisper to me with immense gesticulation : " There, 
there, you see the news has reached Paris, and perhaps the 
number has gone up since my last accounts from London." 
His spirits during those few days were colossal, and he told me 
that he found it impossible to sleep, ''for counting up his 
subscribers." ' 

The Buccess of the * Comhill ' was so far beyond 
my expectation that I thought that its editor ought to 
share in the fruits of that success ; I told Mr. Thackeray 
he must allow me to double his editorial payment. He 
seemed much touched by .my communication. I have 
said that our payments to contributors were lavish. As 
figures are generally interesting, I may mention that the 
largest amount expended on the literature of a single 
number was 1,1832. 3^. 8d. (August 1862), and the total 
expenditure under that head for the first four years 
was 32,2802. 11^., the illustrations costing in addition 
4,3762. lis. 

The largest payment made for a novel was 7,0002., to 
Mrs. Lewes (George Eliot) for * Eomola.' The largest 
payment made for short articles was 122. 12s, a page to 
Mr. Thackeray, for his/ Boundabout Papers.' In regard 
to the payment to Mrs. Lewes, an incident seems io 



OUB BIBTH AND PARENTAGE 115 

deserve honourable record as a signal proof of the author's 
artistic sensibility. Mrs. Lewes read part of ' Bomola ' 
to me, and anyone who has heard that lady read and 
remembers her musical and sjrmpathetic voice will under- 
stand that the MS. lost nothing in effect by her reading. 
On the following day I offered her 10,000Z. for the book 
for the ' Comhill Magazine/ and for a limited right to 
subsequent publication. It was stipulated that the book 
should form sixteen numbers of twenty-four pages each. 
Before the appearance of the first part Mrs. Lewes said 
that she found that she could not properly divide the book 
into as many as sixteen parts. I took exception to this 
alteration of our arrangement, and pointed out. that my 
offer was based on the book being in sixteen parts, and 
that my calculations were made with regard to the 
magazine being: able to afford a payment of so much a 
number. She said that she quite understood tiiat the 
alteration would make a difference to me, but that she 
supposed the amount of the difference, could easily be 
calculated. George Lewes and I did all we possibly 
could to persuade her " to reconsider her decision, but in 
vain. We pointed out to her that the publication in the 
m£bgazine was ephemeral, and that the work would be 
published in a separate form afterwards and be judged as 
a whole. However, nothing could move her, and she 
preferred receiving 7,000Z. in place of 10,000i. for the 
book. - * Bomola ' did not increase the sale of the 
magazine ; it is difficult to say what, if any, effect it had 
in sustaining the sale. As a separate publication it had 
not, I think, the success it deserved. 

The first novel written by Miss Thackeray, the charm- 
ing ' Story of Elizabeth,' appeared in the ' Comhill 
Magazine ' towards the end of 1862. As I was coming 
away from her father one morning early in that year, she 
slipped out of the dining-room, put a packet into my 
hand, said in a pretty, shy manner, * Will you, please, read 

l2 



r 



116 SOME PAGES OF AUTOBIOGEAPHT 

this, Mr. Smith?' and disappeared. The packet con- 
tained the * Story of Elizabeth^ ; after reading it I had it 
pat into type for the ' ComhiU/ and sent a proof to her 
father. When I next saw him I asked if he had read it. 
' No/ he said ; * I tried to, but I broke down.' This was 
only one of a thousand indications of Thackeray's sensi- 
bility and of the great love betweein the father and daughter. 
The first article Miss Thackeray wrote for the 
Magazine was called 'Little Scholars/ and was printed 
in the fifth number. Thackeray sent it to me with a 
letter containing the following passage : 

* And in the meantime comes a little oontribntion called 
" Little Scholars/' which I send you and which moistened my 
paternal spectacles. It is the article I talked of sending to 
'' Blackwood " ; but why should <' Gomhill " lose such a sweet 
paper, because it was my dear girl who wrote it ? Papas, how* 
ever, are bad judges — ^you decide whether we shall have it or 
not I' 

I find a characteristic postscript to this letter : 

* Mrs. G growls— is satisfied — ^says she shan't write any 

more — ^and invites me to dioner.' 

I must say that I think our success was well deserved. 
Our contributors gave the new magazine of their very 
best. No other group equally brilliant had ever been 
brought together before within the covers of one magazine. 
During the first year there were articles from the follow- 
ing writers : 

Anthony Tbollope Mrs. Aboheb Glivb 

Sm John BowRiNa M. J. Hiogins ('Jacob 
G. H. Lewes Omnium') 

Bev. F. Mahon7 ('Father Thomas Hood 

Pbout') Alfred Tennyson 

Sm John Bxtbgoyne Gborgb Augustus Sala 

Thornton Hunt B. Monceton Milnes 

Allen Younq Mrs. Gaskell 



OUE BIBTH AND PAEENTAGE 



117 



Fbbdbbiok Gbeenwood 
Hbbman Mbbiyale 
Bey. S.. B. Hole 
John Buskin 
Adelaide Procteb 
Henby Cole 
E. S. Dallas 
Albebt Smith 
John Hollinoshbad 
Sm Henby Thoi^son 
Laubenge Olifhant 
Miss Thageebay 



Geobge Magdonald 
James Hinton 
Matthew Abnold 
Mbs. Bbowning 
Sib John W. Kayb 
FiTzjAMES Stephen 
Edwabd Townbend 
T. Adolfhus Tbollope 
LoBD Lytton 
Chables Leveb 
Fbedebigk Logkeb 



The ' Gomhill Magazine ' daring many years con- 
tained iUustrations, and it was no less distinguished for 
its artistic merit than for its literature. Among the 
artists whose drawings appeared in the magazine were 
the following : 



John Eyebett Millais 
F. Sandys 
E» Leiohton 
BiOHABD Doyle 
Fbedebigk Walkeb 
Geoboe Du Maubieb 
Sib Noel Paton 
Chables Eeene 



F. W. BUBTON 

S. L. Fildes 

HUBEBT HeBKOMEB 

G. D. Leslie 
Mabgus Stone 
Mbs. Allinqham 

F. DiGKSBE 
E. J. PiNWELL 



I may possibly at a future time ask the Editor of 
the \ Gomhill Magazine * to allow me to submit to him a 
few jottings from my memory of some of these writers 
and artists. 

Although we did our best to make the new venture a 
success, yet accidents will happen, and the launch of the 
* Gomhill ' was attended with one somewhat exasperating 
business blunder. When I had got the fibrst number ready 
for press I was rather knocked up, and went with my wife 
for a three weeks' holiday to the Lakes, Those three 
weeks indirectly cost us a considerable loss in the advertis- 
ing pages of the ' Gomhill.' I left instractions with my 



J 18 SOME PAGES OP AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

staff not to make any advertising contracts without 
reference to me. They received offers extending over 
twelve months at 61. Gs. or 71. Is. a page— sufficiently 
good rates for magazines with the ordinary circulation. 
They forwarded these proposals to me, intimating that 
unless they heard from me to the contrary by a given date 
they would close with them. There was delay in the 
letter reaching me, and the contracts were made at those 
rates. But with the circulation reached by the ' Gomhill ' 
the mere printing and paper cost us much more than the 
amounts we were to receive under the contracts. When I 
returned to London I made the rate twenty guineas per 

page. 

In this connection I had a rather curious exposition 
of the science of advertising. The rate we charged was 
high ; but measured against our circulation it was really 
much lower than that of any other magazine ; and I was 
a little surprised that, considering the enormous publicity 
our pages offered to advertisers, they were not better filled. 
I found myself at a dinner-party sitting next to a well- 
known advertiser, and I thought I would try to get a 
solution of the puzzle. I began by saying I was not a 
canvasser for advertisements, but I wanted information. 
' You advertise largely,* I said, ' in a certain magazine. 
You pay five guineas a page, and you know that the 
circulation of that magazine is not 10,000 copies. The 
"Comhiir* has a circulation of more than 100,000 copies; 
we charge twenty guineas a page for advertisements ; 
yet I don't find that advertisements come in to the extent 
I expected. If a circulation of 10,000 copies is worth five 
guineas a page, a circulation of 100,000 copies ought to be 
worth fifty guineas a page. And as we only charge 
twenty guineas, our rates are, proportionately, lower by 
more than fifty per cent, than those of other magazines. 
Why don't advertisers take advantage of what we offer?' 
' Ah ! * said the great advertiser, ' you evidently know 



I 



OUR BIBTH AND PARENTAGE 119 

nothing about it ' ; and he proceeded to expound to me, on 
the authority of his large experience, the true secret of 
advertising. 

' We don't consider/ he said, * that an advertisement 
seen for the first time by a reader is worth anjrthing. 
The second time it is seen counts for a little — ^not much. 
The third time the reader's attention is arrested; the 
fourth time he reads the advertisement through ; the fifth 
time he is probably a purchaser. It takes time to soak 
in. It is the number of the impressions that tells. Now 
you see/ he said, ' I can advertise five times in most maga- 
zines for twenty-five guineas ; but five times in the 
TComhill" would cost me 100 guineas.' 

This theory that it takes a number of impressions to 
make an advertisement effective is, perhaps, correct. I 
certainly had had an example of what my interlocutor 
meant many years previously, during my drives twice a 
week to Box Hill, to see my father during his last illness. 
On a tree by the roadside was a flaming placard, an- 
noxmcing some trumpery penny publication. The placard 
depicted a young woman, with long black hair, thrusting 
a dagger into the heart of a ruffianly looking man, with 
the blood spurting all over the neighbourhood. When I 
first saw the placard my eyes scarcely dwelt for a moment 
on it. It awakened no curiosity. But after seeing it 
twice a week for six weeks, that girl's figure had so 
' soaked in ' that I felt impelled to go and buy the publi- 
cation. 

We lightened our labours in the service of the * Corn- 
hill' by monthly dinners. The principal contributors 
used to assemble at my table in Gloucester Square every 
month while we w^e in London ; and these * ComhiU ' 
dinners were very delightful and interesting. Thackeray 
always attended, though he was often in an indifferent 
state of health. At one of these dinners Trollope was to 
meet Thackeray for the first time, and was eagerly looking 



laO SOME PAGES OF AUTOBICX^BAPHY 

forward to an introduction to him. Just before dinner I 
took him up to Thackeray and introduced him with 
suitable empressement. Thackeray curtly said, 'How do? ' 
and, to my wonder and TroUope's anger, turned on his 
heel I He was suffering at the time from an ailment 
which, at that particular moment, caused him a sudden 
spasm of pain ; though we, of course, could not know this. 
I well remember the expression on Trollope's face at that 
moment, and no one who knew Trollope will doubt that 
he could look furious on an adequate — ^and sometimes on 
an inadequate— occasion I He came to me the next morn- 
ing in a very wrathful mood, and said that, had it not been 
that he was in my house for the first time, he would have 
walked out of it. He vowed he would never speak to 
Thackeray again, and so forth. I did my best to soothe 
him ; though rather violent and irritable, he had a fine 
nature with a substratum of great kindliness, and I believe 
he left my room in a happier frame of mind than when 
he entered it. He and Thackeray afterwards became 
close friends. 

These * Gomhill ' dinners gave rise to another incident 
which at this distance of time seems trivial enough, but 
which, at the moment, caused some indignation in my 
own immediate circle. 

Mr. Edmund Yates, who had had a dispute with 
Thackeray which ended in Mr. Yates's compulsory with- 
drawal from the Garrick Club, did me the honour of 
writing an article for a New York paper disparaging the 
* Comhill Magazine,' making a false statement as to its 
falling circulation, and describing one of these dinners, 
at none of which he was present. Yates represented 
me as a good man of business, but an entirely unread 
person ; and, by way of throwing ridicule on the 'Comhill* 
functions, told — or rather mistold — a story of what had 
been said at one of the dinners. 

The story in the New York paper was made the subject 



OUB BIBTH AND PAEENTAGE 121 

of an article, of the sneering type, in the * Saturday Beview/ 
The ' Saturday Beview's ' article left me qtdte undisturbed, 
but my wife, who was ill at the time, was much annoyed, 
and Thackeray, with generous sympathy, rebuked the 
< Saturday' in a brilliant 'Boundabout Paper' entitled 'On 
Screens in Dining Booms.' * That a publisher should be 
criticised for his dinners, and for the conversations that 
did not take place there, is this,' asked Thackeray, 'tolerable 
press practice, legitimate joking, or honourable warfare ? ' 
Shortly after the ' Saturday Beview ' article appeared, 
Trollope walked into my room and said he had come to 
confess that he had given Yates the information on which 
his article was founded. He expressed the deepest regret, 
and said : ' I told the story, not against you, but against 
Thackeray.' I am afraid I answered him rather angrily. 
Trollope, however, took it very meekly, and said : ' I know 
I have done wrong, and you may say anything yOu like 
tome.* 

The house at which these ' Comhill ' dinners took 
place had been previously occupied by Mr. Sadleir, 
notorious for his frauds, who was found dead on Hamp- 
stead Heath with a silver cream-]ug by his side which 
had contained prussic acid. By some defect in the 
construction of the house, when the front door was 
opened the drawing-room door also slowly opened, and 
the wind lifted the carpet in slight waves. Thackeray, 
whose humour was sometimes of a grim sort, was never 
tired of suggesting that it was Sadleir's ghost come in 
search of some deeds which had been hidden under the 
floor. Why, he would demand in anxious tones, did I not 
have the carpet taken up and the deeds discovered ? He 
pretended to account for my indifference on the subject 
to his own satisfaction by saying : ' I suppose you think 
any deeds you find will be forged? ' ' 

' * Two years since I had the good fortune to partake of some admirable 
dinners in Tybomia — ma^fioent dinners indeed, bat rendered doubly inter- 



123 SOME PAGES OP AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

The monthly dinners were not onr only alleyiations of 
the regular routine of business. Whenever any new liter- 
ary arrangement with Mr. Thackeray was pending, he 
would playfully suggest that he always found his mind 
clearer for business at Greenwich than elsewhere, 
especially if his digestion were assisted by a certain brown 
hock, at 15s, a bottle, which Mr. Hart, the landlord, used to 
produce. On these occasions Sir Charles Taylor, a very 
agreeable and prominent member of the Garrick Club, a 
friend of Thackeray and an acquaintance of mine, was always 
present. Beyond an occasional witticism. Sir Charles 
Taylor did not take part in our negotiations (and, indeed, 
there was no negotiation, for I cannot remember a single 
instance in which Mr. Thackeray demurred to any proposal 
that I made to him), but his social gifts made our little 
dinners very pleasant. One little anecdote may indicate 
the somewhat unconventional manner in which the busi- 
ness of the ' Comhill Magazine ' was occasionally treated. 
TroUope came to me in Pall Mall, where we had now a 
branch office, to arrange for a new serial. I told him my 
ternas, but he demurred to my offer of 2,000Z., and said that 
he had hoped for 3,0002. I shook my head. ' Well,' he 
replied, ' let us toss for that other 1,0002.' I asked him if 

eating from the fact that the house was that occupied by the late Mr. Sadleir. 
One night the late Mr. Sadleir took tea in that dining-room, and* to the 
surprise of his butler, went out, haying put into his pocket his own cream- 
jug. The next morning, you know, he was found dead on Hampstead Heath, 
with the cream-jug lying by him, into which he had poured the poison by 
which he died. The idea of .the ghost of the late gentleman flitting about the 
room gave a strange interest to the banquet. Can you fancy him taking his 
tea alone in the dining-room? He empties that cream-jug and puts it in his 
pocket ; and then he opens yonder door, through which he is nfBver to 
pass again. Now he crosses the hall : and hark 1 the hall door shuts upon 
him, and his steps die away. They are gone into the night. They traverse 
the sleeping city. They lead him into the fields, where the grey morning 
is beginning to glimmer. He pours something from a bottle into a little 
silver jug. It touches his lips, the lying lips. Do they quiver a prayer 
ere that awful draught is swallowed ? When the sun rises they are dumb. 
— Boundabout JPapgn, 



OUE BIRTH AND PARENTAGE 123 

he wished to min me^ and said that if my banker heard 
of my tossing authors for their copyrights he would cer- 
tainly close my account ; and what about my clerks ? How 
I should demoralise them if they suspected me of tossing 
with an author for his manuscript ! We ultimately came 
to an agreement on my terms, which were sufficiently 
liberal. But I felt uncomfortable — I felt mean — I had 
refused a challenge. To relieve my mind I said, ' Now 
that is settled, if you will come ov^ the way to my 
club, where we can have a little room to ourselves for five 
minutes, I will toss you for 1,0002. with pleasure.' Mr. 
TroUope did not accept the offer. 

The large numbers of copies printed obliged us to go 
to press earUer in the month than most of the magazines, 
and we found some difficulty in getting article^ up to time. 
There was an article by Mr. George Augustus Sala which 
was very much behind time, and the printer came to 
me with a long face. I said that I would call on Mr. 
Sala on my way to the City and try to get the article. I 
did call, and I knocked at the door of his chambers first 
with my knuckles and then with the knob of my stick, 
but without effect. There was no response. As I was 
going downstairs I met a friend of Sala whom I knew. 
*If you are going to see Sala,' I said, ^you need not go 
upstairs, he's not there.' * Do you want to see him ? * he 
asked. ' Indeed I do,' said I. ' Then come up with me.' 
There was no knocking at the door this time ; my friend 
produced a penny and put it into the slot which had been 
made for a letter-box. It had hardly ceased rolling on 
the floor before Sala appeared. He had only a page or 
two of his article to write, and I waited for it and carried 
it off. I had no idea of Mr. Sala's reason for 'sporting his 
oak ' in this peculiar manner, and he did not vouchsafe 
any explanation. 

The ' Cornhill ' was edited by Thackeray from January 
1860 to MfQT 1862. I cannot truly say that he was, in a 



124 SOME PAQES OF AUTOBIOGBAPHT 

business sense, a good editor, and I had to do some part of 
the work myself. This was a pleasure to me, for I had 
the greatest possible admiration and affection for him. 
Such a relation between editor and publisher would have 
worked ill in the case of some men ; but Thackeray's 
nature was so generous, and my regard for him was so 
sincere, that no misunderstanding between us ever arose. 
I used to drive round to his house in Onslow Square 
nearly every morning, and we discussed manuscripts and 
subjects together. Later in the day frequently came 
little notes, of which I have a large number, and of which 
the following is a characteristic specimen : 

* 86 0. S., S.W. : Jan. 1, 1861. 
•My dbab S., — 
' H. N. T. to all Smiths. 

• I am afraid we can't get Looh. He has been advised not 
to write except his own book, whatever that may be. 

' Stephen can't dp anything for Feb. 

* Wynter says he will do Bread. 

' This is all the present news from 

• Yours ever, 

*W.M.T.' 

Thackeray was far too tender-hearted to be happy as an 
editor. He could not say ' No ' without himself suffering 
a pang as keen as that inflicted by his 'No' on the 
rejected contributor. He would take pains — such as, I 
believe, few editors have ever taken — to soften his refusal. 
The beautiful letter to Mrs. Browning, printed in Mrs. 
Eitchie's article before mentioned, is an example of the 
pains that he took in writing to the contributors of 
rejected articles. 

Thackeray poured out his sorrows as an editor in one 
of his ' Eoundabout Papers.' It is entitled ' Thorns in 
the Cushion,' and is a good example of Thackeray's 
humour and an illustration of the effect upon him of 
editorial duties. No one can read the article without 



OUR BIETH AND PARENTAGE 125 

realising as I did that Mr. Thackeray came to a wise 
decision when he resigned the editorship of the magazine 
and thus consulted his own comfort and peace of mind. 

I like to think that the tender heart of this noble man 
of genius was not troubled by editorial thorns during the 
remainder of his life. But in looking back it sometimes 
comes to me with a feeling akin to remorse that I was 
the instrument of imposing on him an uncongenial task, 
and that I might have done more than I did to relieve 
him of its burden. 



196 80MB PAGES OF AUTOBIOGRAPHY 



IV 

LAWFUL PLEA8UBE8 

Beprinted from the * OornhiU Ma^uine,* Febniary 1901 

To most men few things are more disagreeable than 
litigation, and from litigation of the ordinary kind I am 
as averse as other people. Indeed, I am able to under- 
stand and sympathise with a well-known broker of 
Mincing Lane who, whenever threatened with litigation, 
is said to produce his cheque-book and ask how much 
there is to pay. There is only one form of litigation in 
which I have been engaged, and that is in the defence of 
actions for libel, and I must confess to looking back on 
my experience of the courts of law as having been interest- 
ing and even enjoyable. There is a certain pleasurable 
excitement in being defendant in such actions, it being 
granted that the libeller conscientiously believes that the 
libel is true in substance and in fact, and that he has done 
a public service by its publication. 

There are other kinds of libel ; for instance, the inno- 
cent libel — where there has been no intention on the part 
of the writer of libelling any one ; and the accidental 
libel, arising from a slip of the pen. An example of the 
first kind of libel is to be found in ' Plantagenet Harrison 
V. Smith, Elder, & Co.,' and of the second in the peril in 
which I stood by the accidental insertion in the 'Pall 
Mall Gtizette ' of the name of the Credit Foncier for that 
of another company. The first afforded me no pleasure : 
on the contrary, I wrote a cheque for the damages and 



LAWFUL PLEASTJBES 127 

costs with ' most igstreme disgnst ' ; and the second gave 
me a bad quarter of an honr. 

"When I was proprietor of the * Pall Mall Gazette ' I 
had to defend in Court three actions for libeli and my 
publisher had once to appear before the magistrate at 
Great Marlborough Street Police Court : as proprietor of 
the ' Comhill Magazine ' I have had to defend one action. 
As to the number of actions with which I have been 
threatened, some of them being carried nearly to the doors 
of the law courts, my memory does not serve me. But I 
remember that I invariably suffered genuine disappoint- 
ment when I was informed by my solicitor that a plaintiff 
had withdrawn from proceedings. 

The first and most important libel action which I 
was called upon to defend was that of Hunter v. Sharpe 
(Sharpe being the publisher of the ' Pall Mall Grazette ') 
in the autumn of 1866. It is still interesting as an 
illustration of the functions and perils of a newspaper. 
There was a certain Dr. Hunter, who appended M.D. to 
his name — though he only had an American degree— and 
who advertised to an enormous extent in the newspapers 
a * cure for consumption.' The advertisements were most 
skilfully worded, and might well impose upon the credulity 
of any one with a limited medical knowledge. My atten- 
tion was first directed to Hunter's advertisements by the 
circumstance that one of my sisters had died of consump- 
tion, and that my mother, who was now aged, suffered 
remorse for not having taken her daughter to this- quack. 
Nothing I could say seemed to relieve her morbid condition 
of mind. I asked a friend, an eminent physician, to have 
a talk with her; but he was not more successful than 
myself. Hunter's plausible statements were transparent 
enough to me, and I felt wrathful with him fdr the 
unhappiness he caused my mother. My anger with the 
man was increased by my knowledge of the case of a 
poor girl who lived in my mother's neighbourhood in the 



138 SOME PAGES OP AUTOBIOGBAPHT 

country, and earned a scanty living as a governess. She 
suffered from consumption, and had sold all her small 
vahiables in order to pay the fees of an ignorant pretender 
who was Dr. Hunter's assistant or partner, and who had 
been sent down from London to treat her. The local 
practitioner, a perfectly competent man, assured me that 
nothing could have been done for the poor girl, and that 
the repeated visits and large fees of Hunter's assistant 
were a cruel imposition. 

While I was in this frame of mind Dr. Hunter was 
summoned to a police-court on the charge of having 
grossly insulted one of his patients. This again caUed 
my attention to his proceedings, and I arranged with the 
editor of the 'Pall Mall Gazette' for a strong article 
about Hunter's practices. It happened, just at that time, 
that I was making special arrangements to ensure the 
paper going to press in good time. I made the manager 
pf the printing department responsible for the appear- 
ance of the paper at a fixed hour, and instructed him to 
send a formal notice to the editors' room every afternoon, 
stating the time at which the last proof irmst be returned 
for press. 

When the proof of the article concenung Dr. Hunter, 
which was written by Mr. J. M. Gapes, came down to the 
editor's room, there were present, with Mr. Greenwood (the 
editor) and myself, Mr. Matthew Higgins and Mr. 
Fitzjames Stephen. I read the article aloud. 'Well/ 
said Mr. Fitzjames Stephen, * if you are going to print tliat 
article you will hear of it I' 'At all events,' said Mr. 
Higgins, ' let me take some of the worst of the libel out.' 
He was a past master in that kind of work, and was 
supposed to be able to write nearer libel, without actually 
committing it, than any other man in London. 

Higgins commenced his alterations ; but before he had 
gone through many lines down came the formal notice 
from the manager of the printing office. We looked at 



LAWFUL PLEASURES 129 

each other rather blankly ; then I said, ' Hang it, let it 
go r I did not quite realise what would result from my 
words, but I cannot say that I regret them. In the 
course of a few days we were served with a writ, and were 
in the hands of the lawyers. 

We decided on a plea of justification, and had to seek 
our evidence. It was, of course, almost entirely medical 
evidence that was required, and the work of getting it 
together largely fell upon me. I found many of the lead- 
ing doctors reluctant to appear as witnesses in a court of 
law, and I had a great deal of trouble in getting the 
evidence together. I used to spend the greater part of 
my mornings in the waiting-room of one doctor or 
another. 

At length the case came on ; it was tried before Lord 
Chief Justice Cockbum ; it lasted five days and excited 
great interest. Nearly every newspaper in the kingdom 
reported it at length. My counsel were Mr. John 
Karslake, Q.C., Mr. Fitzjames Stephen and Mr. Quain ; 
Mr. Coleridge, Q.C., Serjeant Parry, Mr. Hume Williams, 
and Mr. Casbel Hoey appeared for the plaintiff. We had 
. long array „( ^gZ^ dootora a, Lne.Be, : »nong 
others Dr. Charles J. B. Williams, Dr. Bisdon Bennett, 
Dr. James Cotton, Dr. Alexander Markham, Dr. George 
Johnson, Dr. Quain, and Dr. William Odling, and I may 
offer a tribute to the generosity of the profession by 
stating that all my medical witnesses, with one exception, 
returned the fee sent to them by my solicitor. Notwith- 
standing this generous conduct on the part of my pro- 
fessional vritnesses, my legal expenses were about 1,400Z. 
The money was not entirely thrown away, for the result 
was a brilliant triumph for the ' Pall Mall Gazette.' 

It need hardly be said that 1 listened to the evidence 
vrith the most anxious interest, being aware, as I was, of 
our weak as well as of our strong points. A doctor of 
great eminence in his profession had in the earlier editions 

K 



130 SOME PAGES OP AUTOBIOGBAPHT 

of an important medical work referred to the possible ad- 
vantages of a treatment for consomption which by the 
ingenuity of counsel might be . made to seem a cognate 
treatment to that emploj^d by Dr. Hunter. When Mr. 
Coleridge took the book in his hand in the course of his 
cross-examination of one of our witnesses, my heart was 
in my boots ; and when the witness left the box without 
any allusion having been made to the dreaded passage 
which might have been used with damaging e£Eect t6 our 
cause, I involuntarily exclaimed, ' Thank God ! he has 
missed it I ' I was sitting in the reporters' box, and beside 
me was a gentleman, who was evidently much interested 
in the trial, whom I did not recognise and whom I was 
afraid of addressing for fear of his being a hostile witness. 
When I uttered the above expression he turned to me and 
said, 'Oh I you are on our side.' I said, *I am the 
defendant ; ' on which he introduced himself as one of my 
witnesses and shook me wannly by the hand. 

Dr. Williams, who was in the forefront of our phalanx 
of witnesses, was the medical adviser of the Lord Chief 
Justice, who suffered from bronchitis, and it was amusing 
to watch his enjoyment in questioning his own doctor, 
many of the questions being somewhat irrelevant to the 
case. The cross-examination of Dr. Hunter's two aides- 
de-camp, Dr. Melville and Dr. McGregor, was very severe, 
and one could hardly help enjoying their torture. 

Among the witnesses on our side Dr. William Odling 
distinguished himself by the clearness and perspicuity of 
his exposition of abstruse scientific facts which he made 
quite intelligible to the jury, and under cross-examination 
he was a match for all Mr. Coleridge's dexterity. 

Lord Chief Justice Cockbum summed up at great 
length. In his charge to the jury, he said the article was 
unquestionably marked by great severity. Language had 
been used of the very strongest character. But, he added, 
if the facts upon which the 8ubstanQM>f the article was 



LAWFUL PLEASUBBS 131 

based were trae, and it was proved that the treatment was 
intentionally and distinctly put forward to delude patients, 
and to make them Hunter's victims in purse if not in 
person, the libel was justifiable. 'Under such circum- 
stances no language too strong could be employed ; and to 
describe such a man as an impostor and a scoundrel was 
not an improper use of the English language.' Though 
Lord Chief Justice Cockbum's summing-up was marked 
by the usual judicial impartiality, it was soon apparent to 
which side his opinion tended, and with the more serious 
matter were introduced remarks in a lighter vein which 
were not calculated to give the jury a favourable impres- 
sion of the plaintiff. He startled them by remarking 
that, according to Dr. Hunter's theory, of every four 
people we meet one is consumptive in either the incipient 
or the advanced stage ; therefore three of the jury must 
be in that condition. But he added, in a reassuring 
manner, that he should have great difficulty in selecting 
the three, and he hoped, therefore, that the jury were an 
exception to the rule. 

' Again,' he said, quoting Dr. Hunter, ' " if you have a 
hacking cough, if you have shortness of breath, if your 
pulse is accelerated ten or fifteen beats beyond its normal 
pulsation, these are infallible signs of consumption." . I 
do not know, gentlemen, whether some of you are, like 
myself, getting on in the vale of years, but I do not find 
that I can walk up the side of a hill as I used to do. 
Then there is another thing ; he says that " losing flesh 
is a sign of consumption ; so is gaining flesh." You 
sometimes see nice rosy plump-looking young girls, the 
very picture of health, but he deals with them in the same 
way. That is nothing to the purpose: they have con- 
sumption. Especially if you change now and then, if you 
add to your weight at one time and lose it at another, it is 
consumption— consumption.' 

I think if I had had no personal interest in the case I 

x2 



182 SOME PAGES OP AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

should still have listened with the keenest pleasure to the 
lucid and vigorous charge of the Chief Justice, given in 
that musical voice for which he was famed.. Fitzjames 
Stephen, who naturally felt a strong interest in the case, 
fairly beamed. He wrote on a piece of paper and passed 
to me the nursery rhyme : 

Take him by the right leg, 
Take him by the left leg, 
Take him by both legs 

And fling him downstairs I 

The quotation was not erudite nor classical, but it 
adequately expressed Fitzjames Stephen's emotions. I 
answered him by a familiar Latin quotation, but as it is 
to be found in the * Eton Latin Grammar,' I forbear to 
record it. 

During the summing-up. Hunter, who was sitting in 
the well of the court, was very much excited and poured 
indignant comments into the ears of his counsel, until 
Mr. Coleridge moved away in evident disgust. 

After an absence of two hours the jury returned a 
verdict for the plaintiff, damages one farthing. The 
' damages ' were awarded, not for anything that was said 
about Dr. Hunter's medical practices, but for a remark 
upon the proceedings against him in the police court 
which we were not able technically to justify. This was 
really a most satisfactory verdict for us — for to Hunter 
the matter was one almost of life or death, and if he could 
have shown any ground for appeal we should certainly 
have bad to fight the case over again. But, having gained 
his cause, he could not, of course, appeal against the 
verdict, and in an action for libel the jury are the sole 
judges of the amount of damages. When excessive 
damages have been given the Court of Appeal has some- 
times reduced them, but I believe that in no case have 
the damages been increased. 

On the day after the verdict there were leading articles 



LAWFUL PLEASUEES 133 

of a congratulatory character in most of the leading jour- 
nals. The ' Times ' descrihed the action as one of equal 
importance to the press and to the medical profession, 
and said : * We should fail in our duty if we did not express 
our conviction that our contemporary is entitled to the 
thanks of the public for a courageous attempt to protect 
their interests,' 

Shortly after the trial, I was presented with a very 
handsome silver vase and a salver accompanied by an 
address with 181 signatures which by their distinction 
and authority made the address very gratifying. The 
testimonial was presented * in recognition of the impor- 
tant service rendered to the community by the " Pall Mall 
Gazette " in successfully defending the action Hunter v. 
Sharpe, whereby the freedom of the press was once more 
vindicated and the right of courageous and honest criticism 
afl&rmed.* 

Public sympathy with me took other forms. I found 
on my table at my office, the morning after the trial, 
several envelopes, each one containing a farthing, and I 
received numerous letters of congratulation, many of them 
from entire strangers. On the whole, we emerged from 
the action triumphantly. Hunter published a volume 
defending himself, and abusing everybody on our side. I 
believe that he made some attempt to bring an appeal, 
but abandoned it; in the end he left the country, and 
England was afflicted with one quack the less. Hunter 
was reaping a rich harvest from his dupes ; his income at 
the time that the libel appeared was said to be between 
12,000Z. and 14,000Z. a year. The trial at all events re- 
lieved me from one trouble, my anxiety about my mother. 
As soon as Hunter was in a hostile position towards me, 
she naturally became a keen partisan of her son : no 
words were strong enough to express her indignation with 
the impostor. 

The next ' Pall Mall Gazette ' libel suit was one of 



134 SOME PAGES OF AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

much literary interest. It was brought by Mr. Hepworth 
Dixon in November 1872. Hepworth Dixon had been 
announced as the chairman of the London Centenary 
Festival of Sir Walter Scott. A contributor to the ' Pall 
Mall Ghbzette/ who was acquainted with Hepworth Dixon's 
writings, wrote an ' Occasional Note ' for the paper, object- 
ing to the appointment to such a position of ' a man who 
was best known as a writer of indecent literature.' The 
word best was a very unhappy superlative ; but there was 
nothing for it but a plea of justification. The difficulty 
in which we were placed by the incautious use of that 
word * best * will be easily understood ; a milder adjective 
would have been quite as effective for the writer's purpose, 
and justification would have been comparatively easy. 
We addressed ourselves chiefly to showing what kind of 
literature Mr. Hepworth Dixon had produced ; but the 
only method of justifying the unhappy expression ' best 
known ' was by attempting to show that the most in- 
decent of Dixon's writings had had the largest sale. We 
did not make much of that contention. 

It could not be expected that our counsel or solicitor 
would wade through Mr. Hepworth Dixon's books, and I 
had to set to work upon that unpleasant task myself, in 
order to extract materials for our brief. I got from 
America pamphlets and newspapers about the various 
societies of doubtful tendency which Mr. Hepworth Dixon 
had described in his books — 'New America' and * Spiritual 
Wives.' It was only by connecting passages, divided by 
many pages, and elucidating them by [ means of the 
material received from America, that one could detect the 
real grossness of the works. He was a man of consider- 
able ability, and had wrapped up his indelicacy with 
great skill. 

The case, which lasted three days, was tried before 
Mr. Justice Brett ; the counsel for the plaintiff were 
Serjeant Parry, Mr. Day, Q.C., and Mr. Gadstone; and 



LAWFUL PLEASURES 135 

we were represented by Sir John Karslake, Q.G.» Mr» 
Fitzjames Stephen, Q.C., and Mr. Mnrphy. In addition 
to the ' Occasional Note ' the plaintiff included in the 
declaration of his cause of action an article on the work 
called* ' Free Bussia/ which appeared in the ' Pall Mall 
Gazette ' more than a year previously, and which imputed 
to him the publication of books which were ' obscene, 
inaccurate, or both.' But of this earlier article we should 
probably have heard nothing but for the appearance of 
the * Occasional Note.' 

Mr. Hepworth Dixon went into the box and volun- 
teered the statement that he was ' an old friend ' of mine, 
and that he was ' surprised at my doing him an injury.' 
The ' old friendship ' consisted in my having once met 
him at dinner at the house of Mr. £. B. Eastwick ; and 
as to my personally * doing him an injury,' I did not see 
the 'Occasional Note' until after the paper had been 
printed. Sir John Karslake severely commented upon 
Mr. Dixon's violation of the privileges of the press by in- 
sisting on proceeding against me, as proprietor, instead of 
against the publisher of the paper : but he added, as was 
true, that, as it happened, I did not care about the dis- 
closure of my name. 

We had a consultation before going into court : Ears- 
lake told me he did not think we had any chance, and 
scolded me for the ' Occasional Note ' as if I had written 
it myself 1 Once in court, however, he fought zealously 
and gallantly. His speech for the defence was as fine a 
piece of forensic eloquence as I have ever heard. It is 
many years since, but even now I can remember the 
peroration of his speech. During the trial there had been 
much discussion as to the exact meaning of the word 
< Mucker 9^ which had been used by Hepworth Dixon, and 
it came generally to this, that a ' Mucker ' meant a hypo- 
crite and impostor. Earslake in his peroration said, ' And 
this is the man who, with his pen almost wet from writing 



136 SOME PAGES OP AUTOBIOGBAPHY 

these works, so filthy and so obscene, officiated as Chair- 
man of the Centenary Festival of Sir Walter Scott. As 
he took his place at the head of the table I can fancy the 
wraith of that noble writer, who never soiled his pen 
by a word that would bring a blush to the cheek of 
the most innocent maiden, rising before the unworthy 
Chairman, and with uplifted arm pointing at him with 
his finger, and uttering the word " Muckeb " I ' 

In delivering these words Karslake drew himself up to 
the full height of his grand presence, and, stretching forth 
his arm, pointed his finger at Hepworth Dixon with an 
expression of the utmost scorn. 

The verdict was for the plaintiff, with damages of 
one farthing. That poor farthing was a more cruel re- 
flection on Mr. Hepworth Dixon than the 'Occasional 
Note ' itself. 

A very amusing action for libel was that brought 
against the 'Pall Mall Gazette' by Mr. W. S. Gilbert, 
the dramatist, in 1873. A letter appeared in the * Fall 
Mall Gazette,' signed 'Amuetos,' taking exception to 
certain passages in a play by Mr. Gilbert then being acted 
at the Haymarket Theatre, entitled ' The Wicked World.' 
The criticism was not very severe in character, but Mr. 
W. S. Gilbert thought fit to bring an action for libel, and 
proceedings were at once instituted against us. 

Mr. Gilbert also complained that the 'Pall Mall 
Gazette ' had never treated him with fairness or impar- 
tiality,' and referred to many previous criticisms of his 
plays. 

The Judge was again Mr. Justice Brett, the counsel 
for the plaintiff being the Attorney-General, Mr. J. C. 
Mathew, and Mr. Montagu Williams ; and for the ' Pall 
Mall Gazette ' Sir John Karslake, Q.C., and Mr. Fitz- 
James Stephen, Q.C. 

I doubt if many more amusing cases have been tried 
in a court of justice. Among the witnesses for the plain-' 



LAWFUL PLEASURES 137 

tiff were Mr. Buckstonei the actor, in whose part some of 
the criticised passages occurred, Mr. (now Sir Squire) 
Bancroft, and several theatrical critics. When Mr. Buck- 
stone went into the box there was a broad grin on the 
face of every one in the court. Buckstone was a humourist 
of the first water ; his very face was sufficient to kindle 
laughter; it was well-nigh impossible to look at him with- 
out smiling, and if he looked at you, you were instantly 
vanquished and laughed in spite of yourself. 

When this well-known and inimitable visage appeared 
in the witness-box the court surrendered itself to mirth. 
Counsel, solicitors, witnesses — ^the very police — all grinned; 
and though I wish to speak v^th great respect of the 
bench, I am afraid that Mr. Justice Brett shared the 
imiversal emotion. Earslake, in his most suave manner, 
invited Mr. Buckstone to repeat the lines which had been 
complained of. He did so with a perfect mimicry of a 
schoolboy stammering through his lessoi^ ^ No, no 1 ' 
said Karslake. ' This won't do, Mr. Buckstone ; we want 
you to repeat these lines as you do at the Haymarket 
Theatre.' Buckstone fixed his eye upon the counsel, and 
Earslake bit his lip hard to retain his gravity. The 
witness then turned to the jury, and brought his irresis- 
tible look to bear on each man in succession, and each in 
turn succumbed. Then he looked at the judge, who 
grasped his desk with both hands and sustained Buck- 
stone's glance, doubtless upheld by a sense of judicial 
responsibility. Buckstone then turned to Karslake again, 
and, in a sort of stage aside, said : ' I can't, sir I I'm too 
shy I ' Every one in the court was convulsed. The judge 
concealed his features by putting his face down upon his 
notes, but his back was eloquent. 

Mr. Bancroft went into the box. He was asked did 
he regard the lines criticised as immodest. * No,' he said, 
in his finest manner, * neither immodest nor indelicate.' 
This gave Earslake the chance of asking one of those 



/ 



188 SOME PAGES OP AUTOBIOGBAPHT 

unanswerable questions of which counsel are fond. * Well, 
Mr. Bancroft/ he said, ^ will yon be so good as to give the 
jury your definition of modesty and delicacy ? ' The wit- 
ness surveyed the counsel, the judge, the ceiling, the floor, 
and finally his own well-brushed hat, and he hummed 
and hawed, but that definition was never extracted. 

The result of the trial was a verdict for the defendant. 

There was one incident of this trial which, though it 
did not seem important at the time, one looks back upon 
with painful interest. It was a very dull day, and during 
the afternoon, while Sir John Earslake was reading with 
fine dramatic effect some of Gilbert's lines, candles were 
sent for. Sir John took one into his hands and en- 
deavoured to continue reading, but his sight appeared 
to fail, and he had to hand the papers to Mr. Fitzjames 
Stephen. This was, I believe, the first public symptom of 
that illness which shortly afterwards obliged Sir John 
Earslake to retire from his profession, and deprived the 
Bar of one of its greatest ornaments and most successful 
advocates. ' 

The most anxious half-hour I had in relation to a 
libel during my proprietorship of the / Pall Mall Gazette ' 
was in connection with the late Baron Grant. On .arriv- 
ing one morning at my office my clerk said as I went 
upstairs : ' There is a gentleman waiting to see you, sir, 
who has come from Baron Grant.' I found a tall, good-, 
looking gentleman, in a state of great excitement. ' Are 
you Mr. Smith ? ' he demanded. I bowed. ' Are you 
the proprietor of the " Pall Mall Gazette " ? ' Another 
bow. *Do you know what you have done?* *What 
have I done?' Look here, sir,' he said, producing a 
paper ; ' do you know what has been the eiffect of this 
paragraph?' ^No,' I said. ^It has occasioned the 
greatest alarm among our shareholders and caused a fall 
in the price of our shares.' * Well/ I. asked^ * isn't the 
paragraph true ? ' ' No, sir, not a word of it I ' 



LAWFUL PLEABUBES 139 

I examined the guilty paragraph, and it was soon 
apparent to me that, by an nntortnnate blunder, a mere 
accidental slip of the pen, the Credit Foncier, of which 
Baron Grant was chairman and manager, had been in- 
serted in place of the name of another company and was 
described as being in liquidation. I at once saw that this 
was a serious matter which might involve heavy damages. 

I said, ' Where is Baron Grant ? ' ' He is in the City 
trying to answer the many inquiries your paragraph has 
occasioned.' 'Are you going to the City?' I asked. 
* Yes.' ' Then I will go with you.' 

We went together and I was introduced to Baron 
Grant. He complained with bitterness, in which per- 
haps he was justified, of the paragraph. I said no one 
could regret the blunder more than I did ; it was a pure 
accident, the mistake of a subordinate in the oj£ce. Any- 
thing I could do to put the matter right should be done. 
Baron Grant produced a handful of letters from alarmed 
shareholders: 'Look here, sir,' he said: 'this is what you 
have brought on us,' and he proceeded to pour on me 
much angry rhetoric. I was conscious that, in a legal 
sense, I was responsible, and I answered him with soft 
and apologetic words. My meekness seemed to make 
him still more violent. He began at last to talk to me as 
if I had committed a crime. At length I felt a Uttle 
afraid of myself, and even more afraid of what might 
happen to Baron Grant. I stepped closer to the table, 
and brought my fist down upon it in a manner which 
made the ink-glass jump. I said, 'We have had enough 
of this, Mr. Gottheimer. I am not going to submit to this 
kind of talk any longer. I will give you the name of my 
solicitors, and you may communicate with them ! ' I was 
not in the humour to be amused, for I was very angry ; 
but I think a looker-on would have found something 
entertaining in Baron Grant'B sudden change of front ; 
he was almost too apologetic. I suspect that, owing to 



140 SOME PAGES OP AUTOBIOGBAPHY 

my addressing him by his real name, he thought I knew 
more about him than I did, and he probably did not 
desire to have poured upon himself and his enterprises the 
harsh light of a court of law. 

My one police court experience was when, on 
February 12, 1870, Mr. Dion Boucicault's counsel applied 
to Mr. Enox, the magistrate at Marlborough Street Police 
Court, for a sunmions against the publisher of the ' Pall 
Mall Gazette' for a libel contained in a letter signed 
' Azamat-Batuk,' respecting a play called 'Formosa' which 
was being performed at the Princess's Theatre, a letter 
which he said reflected on Mr. Boucicault's private char- 
acter. A summons was granted, and the parties attended 
at Marlborough Street on February 21. Mr. Montagu 
Williams, Mr. Boucicault's counsel, said that if the writer 
of the article would state that he did not mean to attack 
Mr. Boucicault's private character the avowal would be 
deemed satisfactory ; our counsel rephed that he would 
readily declare on behalf of the publisher of the 'Pall 
Mall Gazette ' that no prejudice to private character was 
intended. Mr. Williams demanded the name of the 
writer, but on the interposition of the magistrate, who 
pointed out that it was not usual for newspapers to dis- 
close the names of writers and that such a demand 
rendered an arrangement impossible, this claim was with- 
drawn. The avowal was accordingly made, and the case 
happily came to an end. 

The only libel suit in which I have been involved 
which has cost me more than one farthing in the way of 
damages was brought in June 1869 by a gentleman call- 
ing himself ' General George Henry De Strabolgie Neville 
Plantagenet Harrison,' who stated that he derived his 
title of General from one of the South American states. 
An article had appeared in the ' Comhill Magazine ' of 
April 1868 under the title of ' Don Bicardo.' It was a 
pleasant little gossipy article, giving an account of a visit 



LAWFUL PLEASURES 141 

to Spain, describing a bnll-fight, a fight between a tiger 
and a bull, and between a bnlldog and a donkey, with 
many quaint stories told to the writer by an Englishman 
resident in Madrid who was generally known as * Don 
Bicardo.' One of these stories described the amusing 
adventures of a ' General Plantagenet Harrison ' and his 
swindling transactions. The editor of the 'Gomhill' 
naturally supposed that such a name, introduced into 
an article of this kind, was entirely fictitious — ^a mere 
humorous invention of the writer. But ' General Planta- 
genet Harrison ' presently turned up in person, in a very 
angry mood, and straightway commenced an action for 
libel. He had been accustomed to read for literary 
purposes in the Public Becord Office. This article had 
drawn attention to him, and, as a result, some difficulty 
had been made as to his researches at the Becord Office 
being allowed to continue. This constituted his claim 
for damages. 

I wished to insert in the next number of the ' Comhill ' 
a brief explanation, with an expression of regret ; but Sir 
John Coleridge, our counsel (Sir John Karslake being, 
unfortunately for me, unable to undertake the case), who 
had seen some correspondence between the General's 
solicitors and our own, in which General Plantagenet 
Harrison's strange pretensions were avowed, insisted that 
the whole business was a farce, and that nothing need be 
done. When the General went into the witness-box his 
examination and cross-examination were really very 
amusing. In his evidence he admitted that he had been 
in some trouble in Spain about a bill which he had left 
at a bank for collection ; that he had been escorted out 
of Spain and imprisoned at Gibraltar; that, rightly or 
wrongly, he believed himself to be descended from the 
Earl of Westmoreland and the Plantagenets. His cross* 
examination by the Solicitor-General, as reported in the 
' Times,' revealed still more extraordinary claims. 



U3 SOME PAGES OP AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

Yoa really believe, I onderBtand, that yon are the heu:-> 
general of Henry VI. ? Tea, I do. 

And that you are the rightful Duke of Lancaster, Normandy, 
and Aquitaine ? Yes, I am. 

And that your title has been recognised by the Queen under 
the Great Seal ? Yes, in a licence to Sir F. Thesiger as Queen's 
Counsel to plead for me. 

Her Majesty has not recognised your title in any more 
formal document ? No. 

It would be rather awkward for Her Majesty if she had, 
would it not ? Well, I don't know. 

Pray, have you asserted that you are Count of Angouldme, 
Flanders, Anjou, Alsace, and Champagne ? Yes. 

And of Kent ? . Yes ; but that was some years ago. 

In re-examination his counsel asked. 

You have worked out your pedigree 7 Yes ; I have» 
And you believe it ? Yes ; and I can prove it. 

After this evidence I thought we were safe, for I sup- 
posed that a crank of this quality must fare ill with the 
jury. 

The vmter of the article, Mr. G. H. B. Young, went 
into the witness-box and said that the story, or the 
ttiaterials for it, was told him in 1861, when he was at 
Madrid, by an Enghsh gentleman who was generally 
known as 'Don Bicardo.' The name of ^Plantagenet 
Harrison' was mentioned to him as that of a man 
travelling under that name. At that time he believed the 
name to be fictitious. He so believed until the plaintiff 
made his complaint, and down to that time he never 
heard of such a person as General Plantagenet Hairison, 
nor did he suppose at the time he wrote the article that 
it would apply to any living person of the name. 

Mr. Justice Lush, in summing up, told the jury that 
even although the writer of the article was not aware of 
the existence of the plaintiff, yet, as he had in fact named 
him and had attached these imputations to his name and 
character, he was legally liable* 



^ 



LAWFUL PLEASUBES 143 

The jniy returned a verdict for the plaintiff, and 
assessed the damages at 501. I must confess the verdict 
took me by surprise, and I can only suppose that Sir John 
Coleridge's attempt to scornfully laugh the case out of 
court irritated the jury. 

This action is a striking exam^e of what I may call 
an innocent libel on the part of the writer, and I think 
even a publisher may claim some sympathy for the result. 
It is difficult to see how the editor of a periodical can 
protect the publisher from an action of this description. 
It would be clearly impossible for him to examine a 
writer of such an article as the one in question as to the 
existence of persons who were named in it ; and in this 
particular instance it will be noticed that the writer 
himself believed that the name of ^ Plantagenet Harrison ' 
was fictitious. 



Jftt ^cmotiam 



Refbinted fbom thb 'Cobnhill Magazine' 

filAY 1901 



' 



IN MEMOBIAM 

But a short time ago Mr. George Smith was interesting 
readers of the ' Comhill Magazine ' by drawing upon the 
stores of a memory familiar with our literary history for 
the last sixty years. Mr. Smith had known the later 
survivors of the first generation of the nineteenth century, 
and was still actively interested in literary enterprise as 
the century closed. He had won the cordial goodwill of 
innumerable authors besides publishing many of their 
best known works. His death (April 6, 1901) puts an 
end to his own narrative, which might have revealed 
more fully than is now possible the secret of a most 
honourable and in some respects unique career. Enough, 
however, is known to justify the strong impression made 
upon his contemporaries. Here I can only attempt the 
briefest indication of what appeared to me to be the 
obvious qualities to which he owed not only success in 
business but a most enduring hold upon the hearts of 
many friends. 

I remember vividly my first interview with him. He 
was then about to start the 'Pall Mall Gazette,' and 
enlisted me as a contributor. I felt as I suppose a sailor 
must feel when he joins a ship and sees a captain beaming 
with cheery hopefulness and masculine self-reliance. Obvi- 
ously my future captain was putting his whole heart into the 
enterprise, and though sanguine was cool-headed and had 
fully counted the cost. A good commander must, I take 
it, be in the first place a good man of business ; and, con- 
versely, Smith's faculty for business would have gone a 



148 IN MEMOBIAM 

long way to the making of a leader in war. His battles 
had to be fought in the law conrts, not in the field ; but, 
as he has shown in his recent papers, he thoroughly 
enjoyed such fighting as he could get. He liked the 
excitement of the struggle as well as the triumph over 
impostors. In early days he had shown that he possessed 
the necessary combination of sagacity and daring by 
taking charge of his father's business, extricating it from 
difficulty, and extending its sphere of action. He was 
thoroughly at home in organising and launching any new 
undertaking. When, in the sixth number of the * Gomhill 
Magazine,' Thackeray boasted pleasantly of some * late 
great victories,' Smith had been the Camot who had been 
making the necessary arrangement behind the scenes. 
The 'Comhill Magazine,' and the 'Pall Mall Gazette' 
after it, were new departures in their respective spheres ; 
and the impression made by each is a sufficient proof of the 
forethought and unsparing energy which their founder 
brought to bear upon those undertakings. He showed the 
same spirit in many other directions. When once a busi- 
ness had been launched and passed into a comparatively 
humdrum stage of existence, he began to thirst for some 
new field of enterprise. On one side, of course, these 
undertakings might be regarded simply from the financial 
point of view. A man, as Johnson wisely remarks, can 
seldom be employed more innocently than in making 
money ; and Smith, as a man of business, might claim 
the benefit of that dictxmi. But he would not have 
had positive claims upon public gratitude if he had not 
combined this with loftier aims. Though he had been 
immersed in business from very early youth, he took 
from the first a genuine pride in his association with the 
upper world of literature. 

Both the 'Gomhill' and the 'Pall Mall Gazette' 
brought him into connection with the ablest writers of 
the time, and provided for many of them an opportunity 



IN MEMOBIAM 149 

of gaming a wide audience. The most conspicuous proof, 
however, of a disinterested love of culture was given by 
the Dictionary of National Biography. The first sug- 
gestion was entirely due to Smith himself ; although his 
original plan (for a universal biographical dictionary) was 
too magnificent to be carried out. His part in the work 
was also the essential one. There would have been no 
difficulty in finding editors by the dozen ; but if the pub- 
lisher had not been ready to incur a vast expenditure, and 
to take for remuneration only the credit of a good piece 
of work, another publisher could hardly have been found 
to take his place. He had shown that he could be a 
lavishly generous publisher in his dealings with Thackeray 
and George Eliot. In such cases, though a mean nature 
does not see it, generosity may also be the best policy ; 
but in the case of the Dictionary, the generosity was its 
own reward. 

It was a pleasure to work with a man so much above 
petty considerations and so appreciative {sometimes, 
perhaps, beyond their merits) of men whose abilities lay 
in a less practical direction. The pleasure was the 
greater for another reason. Smith had the true chivalrous 
sentiment which makes thorough co-operation possible. 
He made me aware that he trusted me implicitly, that I 
could trust him equally. If anything went wrong — as 
things will go wrong sometimes with the most well- 
meaning editors — ^he was always ready to admit that it 
was the fault not of the editor but of the general per- 
versity of things. Least of all would he ever seek to 
ignore his own share in any shortcoming. I sometimes 
thought that he carried his scrupulosity to excess. He 
was so anxious to show confidence and to avoid an irri- 
tating fault-finding that he would not interfere, even when 
a word of counsel might have done good. He was the last 
of men to say, * I told you so.* A writer who had got 
into a serious scrape by an indiscreet publication, said 



150 IN MBMOBIAM 

to him, *Why did you not warn me?' He would not 
justify himself by producing (as he could have done) a 
copy of the letter in which the warning had been empha- 
tically given. That was one instance of a delicacy of 
feeling which was the more striking because combined with 
thorough straightforwardness and contempt for petty 
diplomacy. He could be irascible when he had to do 
with a knave, and could fight strenuously as well as fairly 
against an honourable opponent. But in all his dealings 
he was chivalrous to the backbone, equally incapable of 
striking an enemy a foul blow or of leaving a friend in 
the lurch. 

It was not strange that such a man should win some- 
thing more than sincere respect from his associates. 
Miss Bronte drew his portrait as he appeared to her in his 
early days in the Dr. John of 'Yillette,' the gallant 
English gentleman, contemner of foppery and humbug, 
the ready champion of the weak, full of generous sym- 
pathy and the most sound-hearted affections. Soon after- 
wards he became the warm friend of Thackeray. His 
kindness had an opportunity in shielding an exquisitely 
sensitive nature from the worries of business, and be- 
tween them there developed the warmest mutual regard. 
Thack^ny would have been gratified but not surprised 
could it have been revealed to him that after his death 
his daughters would find in his old ally the most helpful 
and affectionate of friends and advisers. The relation to 
one of those daughters has continued ever since ; and she, 
as I well know, has valued it not only as in itself one of 
her best possessions, but as having Ln in old days a 
possession held in common with those who were dearest 
to her. Browning, whose insight was as keen as his 
nature was tender, became a most attached friend and 
spoke of their mutual confidence in his la.st hours. When 
Millais could no longer speak, he wrote that he should 
like to see * George Smith, the kindest man and the best 



IN MEMOBIAM 1^ 

gentleman I have had to deal with.' Matthew Arnold and 
Smith delighted in each other, and Tom Hughes, most 
hearty and simple oi men, found in Smith one of his most 
congenial friends. The men thus mentioned differed 
widely from each other, but aU of them knew well what 
are the characteristics which give the best groundwork for 
solid and lasting friendship. 

Smith impressed one first as a thorough man — mas- 
culine, unaffected, and fitted to fight his way through the 
world ; but it was not long before one learnt to recognise 
the true and tender nature that went with the strength. 
It would be superfluous to speak of my own experience by 
way of confirming the judgments of which I speak. Yet 
I must say a word of personal gratitude. For many years 
I was constantly at Waterloo Place, seeing Smith and our 
common friend James Payn. I had had the good luck to 
serve as the link to bring them together; and they 
cordially appreciated each other. From those meetings I 
rarely came away without a charming — though often 
scandalously irrelevant — talk with one or other, and to me, 
as to Payn, Smith was always the gallant comrade, certain 
to take a bright view and to set one on better terms with 
oneself. I never had a word from him which left a sting ; 
and many a fit of gloom has been dispelled by his hearty 
sympathy. He was a friend to be relied upon in any 
trouble ; but, trouble or none, his sympathy was one of 
the permanent elements that spoke good cheer and 
courage in the dark moments of life. To me, as to many 
friends, the loss is a heavy one ; the world will be to me 
darker and colder. I cannot even speak of those nearer 
to him ; or I can only intimate the conviction that the 
necessary silence makes it impossible to do justice to his 
real beauty of character. 

Leslie Stephen. 



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